Missing man featured in Border Report special confirmed dead

Chihuahua authorities turn over to relatives remains of Christian Gael Candia Casillas, three others dug up in neighborhood near border

JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) – Mexican authorities say they have identified the remains of a young man whose disappearance was featured on last year’s Border Report special: “Death, Denial and a Region Under Siege.”

The Chihuahua Attorney General’s Office says DNA testing has concluded one of the six skeletal remains found in March in a vacant lot in a neighborhood less than a mile from the Rio Grande and the U.S. border wall are those of Christian Gael Candia Casillas.

Candia, 19, was reported missing by his mother last September after he left work at a lumber yard. He went missing in a neighborhood where the bodies of 21 people have been dug up by police since late last year.

The AG’s office said four of the six skeletal remains were matched to relatives through the DNA tests. They include Candia, Brayan Eduardo C.A., Brayan Alberto V.S. and Miguel Eduardo P.R. The men went missing between 2019 and 2023.

The AG’s office told Border Report the remains have been turned over to family members for burial. An autopsy revealed that Candia was strangled. The four cases have been classified as homicides and remain under investigation. No suspects have been arrested.

El Valle de Juarez, as the Juarez neighborhoods and Mexican farming communities across the border from Socorro, San Elizario, Fabens and Tornillo, Texas, are known, have been the site of widespread drug cartel activity for the past 15 years.

El Paso immigration attorney Carlos Spector has shared with Border Report multiple testimonies of clients seeking asylum in the United States after Sinaloa cartel members killed their relatives or forced them out of homes in El Valle de Juarez.

A shootout last August left four people dead as rival drug gangs allegedly fought over control of a new highway stretching from the southern tip of Juarez to the Marcelino Serna Port of Entry in Tornillo, Texas.

All over Juarez, drug gangs are expanding domestic drug sales. Several instances of drug gangs attacking rivals’ homes and killing not only their competitors, but also their retail clients, have been documented.

State officials said the investigation into the death of Candia continues and no suspects have been arrested.

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