EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The search for a teen migrant with a learning disability abandoned by smugglers in the desert near the U.S. border late last year has come to an end.
Chihuahua state police officers this week located the remains of 19-year-old Omar Reyes Lopez near the community of Praxedis, Mexico. Authorities will turn over the remains to his family on Monday, the Attorney General’s Office said.
“Omar has been found. Our search is over,” his aunt Sheila Arias said in an audio message to reporters on WhatsApp. “We knew he was going to come back to us …. and he will.”
Arias, a human rights activist from the state of Sinaloa, spearheaded a multi-state search for the young man from Hidalgo, Mexico, who left his farming community along with relatives and acquaintances to try to find work in the United States.
The group ran into the U.S. Border Patrol on or about Nov. 2, 2021; those who were not apprehended ran back to Mexico and Reyes was left wandering the desert somewhere near the Ojinaga, Mexico-Presidio, Texas border crossing.
Arias said Reyes kept in cellphone contact with his family until his battery died. The Mexican army, state police and volunteers searched for him for several months. Multiple remains were found during that time, and this week a DNA test confirmed Reyes’ were among them.
The remains were eventually found much farther to the west from where his group attempted crossing into the U.S., likely meaning the teen wandered for several days through the desert.
“We are grateful with everyone who showed solidarity and never stopped searching. We never lost faith” in finding him, Arias said.
The activist earlier told Border Report the case is typical of how smugglers will abandon their charges at the first sign of trouble, even if it means leaving them to die.