The search for two missing environmental activists in western Mexico continued as concern from the community grows over the sudden disappearance, pushing many to protest for stronger government action to find them.

Ricardo Lagunes, a lawyer, and schoolteacher Antonio Díaz were reported missing five days ago after their vehicle was found in an area frequented by warring drug cartels with bullet holes surrounding the entire vehicle, according to the Associated Press.

Local farmers have blocked the road between the states of Michoacan and Colima as a protest against the alleged government inaction over their disappearance. In response to this, the government has sent the National Guard and aircrafts to search for the missing pair in the area, Keyt News reported.

“We hope to find these two people alive,” Michoacan Gov. Alfredo Ramírez said.

Díaz, a local leader of the largely-indigenous town of Aquila, and Lagunes has been deeply involved in protesting against an open-pit iron core mine in the town. The mine, which did not respond to comment on the disappearance, reportedly causes pollution and violence in the town with little material benefit to those who live there.

The mine also drew interest from cartels and local gangs due to the money made from the trade or from extortion. The Michoacan state, in particular, is a well-known battleground between the Jalisco cartel and the Viagras cartel.

Lagunes’ wife María de Jesús Ramírez Magallón said that the “abandonment, exclusion and inequality” of the local communities have kept them poor and have drawn violence in the area, before saying that “the (government) institutions block” the efforts of activists like her husband and Díaz rather than helping them out.

Among those calling for the Mexican government to find these missing activists is United Nations representative Guillermo Fernández-Maldonado, who said that their sudden disappearance has been a “terrible and alarming thing.”

Mexican Missing Activists Search Rep. Pic
The search for two missing Mexican activists in the state of Michoacan continue on Wednesday as the government redoubles their efforts to find the bodies of the two. This is a representational image. Markus Spiske/Unsplash.

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