Missing American Hiker Found Dead in Mexico
The 34-year-old teacher reportedly died at the hands of a drug cartel
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More than three weeks after Patrick Braxton-Andrew was last seen alive, his body has been found in northern Mexico. On November 15, Javier Corral, the governor of Chihuahua, reported on his Facebook page that the 34-year-old Braxton-Andrew was killed by a drug dealer named José Noriel Portilo Gil, in the tiny city of Urique, in Chihuahua. Another Facebook page, set up by a family friend to help search for Braxton-Andrew, confirmed the news with a post on the same day: “Based on information provided by the Chihuahua State authorities, it is with great sadness that we announce that Patrick died on October 28 at the hands of a criminal organization that operates in the area where he was traveling.” On November 17, another post on the same page stated that his body had been recovered and would be brought back to the U.S.
Braxton-Andrew, a Spanish teacher at Woodlawn School in Mooresville, North Carolina, was an avid traveler who sought out hidden places, his father, Gary, told Outside last week. He was drawn to Urique for the opportunity to hike the empty trails of Copper Canyon National Park, a remote wilderness of deep, twisting ravines that draws only the occasional adventurer. Braxton-Andrew was last heard from on October 28, the same day he was reportedly killed, when he mentioned heading out on one last hike to his family. News outlets reported that he never returned, but evidence, such as his camera and most of his belongings left behind in his hotel room, seemed to suggest that he had finished his trek and headed back to Urique before he died.
The region surrounding Urique is one of the most dangerous in Mexico. Mexican news media reports that Portilo Gil, known also as “El Chueco,” or “the crooked one,” is a ranking member of the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel, the group formerly headed by suspected drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.
A post on the Facebook page dedicated to Braxton-Andrew’s search said they would work to find justice, and another said that he died doing what he loved—traveling and meeting people. “We will always remember Patrick and his joy for life,” the post read. “We love you PBA.”