Tahnee Shanks’s family hire private investigator, Mexico authorities unhelpful after disappearance

The family of an Australian woman missing in Mexico has hired a private investigator to try to find her, claiming they’ve had “nothing but dramas” in dealing with Mexican authorities.

Next week marks two months since Tahnee Shanks, 32, was reported missing after her daughter Adelynn was found alone outside a church in Cancun, hours from home.

Ms Shanks’s ex-partner was also still missing.

Their daughter was now living in Queensland after Ms Shanks’s brother and mother flew to Cancun to rescue her.

Dan Shanks said his family was in a race against time and hiring a private investigator (PI) was their last-ditch effort to get a breakthrough in the case.

“He’s one of the head people in Criminology in Mexico,” he said.

Outlook of fire and sunset.
The family posted to Facebook on June 18: “The sun sets on another day…Today was the day Tahnee was due to arrive home.” (Supplied: Facebook)

Mr Shanks said it took more than three weeks for his sister’s files to be passed on from authorities to the PI.

The ABC asked to speak with the PI and the Attorney General of Quintana Roo, but neither had replied.

Human rights complaint

Mr Shanks, who took out a loan against his home to fund a reward for informationsaid the family had hit continuous roadblocks in trying to get information from authorities on the search for his sister.


“We’ve actually put in a complaint through to the [Australia Human Rights Commission] relating to the case files,” Dan Shanks said.

“I’ve got to deal with the people in Australia who send it through to the Australian Embassy and Mexico who then talk to the Mexican authorities.”

The family said they relied on help from people on the ground in Mexico to give them updates.

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) were unable to release information about individual complaints.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) also would not comment due to privacy, but in a statement a spokesperson said DFAT was continuing to support the family in Australia.

“Staff from the Australian Embassy in Mexico continue to engage with Mexican authorities on the investigation into the disappearance of Tahnee Shanks,” the spokesperson said.

a woman stands on a beach holding her daughter up in the air in an embrace
Ms Shanks’s family say this photo of her with her daughter taken on a recent holiday is one of the last they have of her. (Supplied: Daniel Shanks)

Missing persons in Mexico

In the past two years, the total number of registered disappearances in Mexico has risen from 73,000 to more than 100,000, according to the national registry of missing people kept by Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office.

Amnesty International’s latest statistics show that in 2021, authorities registered 7,698 cases of missing people, of whom 31 per cent were women.

It is also stated that “impunity largely prevailed on this issue, with just 35 convictions for the crime of enforced disappearance”.

A black and white photo of a woman looking at a smiling young girl who is looking at the camera.
Thirty-one per cent of people who go missing in Mexico were women just like Ms Shanks, pictured with  daughter Adelynn.(Supplied: Facebook)

“We haven’t even started the grieving process yet, because we’re hoping we don’t have to go there but that’s inevitable at this stage.”

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