California Couple Go Missing on Peru Bike Trip

News comes amid kidnapping warning
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 26, 2013 8:41 AM CST
Cuzco, Peru, where the couple was reportedly last seen.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A young couple from California who were cycling in Peru haven't been heard from since Jan. 25, a disappearance that was followed by a Feb. 13 warning from the US embassy in Lima of kidnapping danger near the cities of Cusco and Macchu Picchu, Reuters reports. Jamie Neal and Garrett Hand, each 25, were last seen headed to Lima from Cusco, according to the embassy. But Peruvian authorities say the pair actually spent five days hundreds of miles northeast of Lima, in the Iquitos region, then boarded a boat to Ecuador.

That journey, local officials said, began Feb. 16—but the couple's families are concerned. "My worries are pretty great," says Neal's boss. "They had been corresponding fairly regularly, and it ceased" on Jan. 25. Reuters explains that the embassy's warning may be tied to an effort by some Maoist Shining Path rebels to maintain control of Cusco's drug trafficking areas; US officials say they're not aware of any link between the couple and the travel advisory.

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