Human sacrifices suspected along Mexico border

// World | Human sacrifices suspected along Mexico border
Email to a friend Plain text Print version // Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font
Rodrigo Abd  /  AP
Eight people have been arrested for allegedly killing two boys and a woman in ritual sacrifices by the cult of La Santa Muerte, or Saint Death.
By
updated 4/1/2012 4:48:47 PM ET 2012-04-01T20:48:47

NACOZARI, Mexico — It was a family people took pity on, one the government and church helped with free food, used clothes, and farm animals. The men were known as trash pickers. Some of the women were suspected of prostitution.

Mexican prosecutors are investigating the poor family living in shacks outside a small town near the U.S. border as alleged members of a cult that sacrificed two 10-year-old boys and a 55-year-old woman to Santa Muerte, or Saint Death, a figure adored mostly by outlaws but whose popularity is growing across Mexico and among Hispanics in the United States.

The killings have shocked the copper mining village of Nacozari, on the edge of the Sierra Madre, and may be the first ritual sacrifices linked to the popular saint condemned by the Roman Catholic Church.

Authorities say the throats and the wrists of the victims were cut with knives and axes, and their blood was spread on a Santa Muerte altar. Their bodies were then buried near the shacks where the alleged cult members lived.

"We never knew they were part of a Santa Muerte cult," said Jorge Sanchez Castillo, a 54-year-old hotel owner who has a corn field next to the house of the woman believed to lead the group. "This has been tragic for all of us."

Nacozari has been spared the grisly violence of drug cartels fighting for lucrative corridors along the U.S.-Mexico border, said police chief Jose Miguel Espinoza.

"It was a peaceful town. We'd never seen such violence," he said.

When a 10-year-old boy went missing in July 2010, his mother and her boyfriend told police that acquaintances had seen him begging in the streets of nearby Agua Prieta across the border from Douglas, Arizona, and that they would go find him, said Espinoza.

"We had no reason to suspect it was a homicide," he said.

A second 10-year-old boy went missing in early March, prompting Sonora state's missing persons unit to send agents to Nacozari, said the police chief. That boy's mother and her boyfriend reported it to state authorities, who discovered weeks later that the two boys knew people in common.

The missing boy Martin Rios was the son of the ex-girlfriend of a man named Eduardo Sanchez. The second boy, Jesus Martinez, was the step-grandson of Eduardo Sanchez's new girlfriend Silvia Meraz.

    1. Audio experts: Screams were not Zimmerman's
    2. Santorum slams Romney, Romney raps Obama
    3. Forget the house, buy the entire town
    4. Was 15-year-old's death a result of bullying?
    5. About-face for Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt election
    6. Egypt: Inside the pharaoh's secret tunnels
    7. New twists emerge in Powell case

The police chief said both boys would often visit Meraz's home in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of the town of 11,500.

Espinoza said his officers suspected the house was being used for prostitution after seeing different men from out of town visiting, but never gathered enough evidence to arrest anyone.

Agents on Wednesday unearthed the body of the boy Jesus Martinez buried in the dirt floor in the bedroom of one of the Meraz daughters. They then began arresting family members, who led them to what agents believe are the remains of the other boy, as well as the grave of 55-year-old Cleotilde Romero, a close friend of Meraz who disappeared in 2009.

Jose Larrinaga, spokesman for the Sonora Attorney General's Office, said the 44-year-old Meraz, who police suspect was the cult leader, and seven people related to her, were detained pending further investigation: her boyfriend Eduardo Sanchez, father, son, three daughters and a daughter-in-law. No formal charges have been filed pending further investigation.

"They thought that by offering the blood, they would be protected for some time," Larrinaga said. "According to them, Santa Muerte was going to tell them where the money was. They all identify themselves as fanatic followers of Santa Muerte."

R. Andrew Chesnut, chairman of Catholic studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of the book "Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint," said there have only been unconfirmed reports of human sacrifices related to the figure in Mexico in recent years.

Chesnut said the 2007 shooting deaths of three men appeared to be related to Santa Muerte because the bodies were abandoned at a shrine to the figure outside the border city of Nuevo Laredo. But they showed no signs of being sacrificial killings.

He said that although most Santa Muerte devotees consider killing a "Satanic aberration of devotion," and that books about the Santa Muerte don't mention human sacrifice, some followers are extreme.

"With no clerical authority to stop them, some practitioners engage in aberrant and even abhorrent rituals," Chesnut said.

Police paraded the eight people arrested in the case of the cult killings into the prosecutor's offices in the state capital of Hermosillo on Friday to allow journalists to view and question them, a typical practice in Mexico.

Meraz told reporters she has believed in Santa Muerte for more than two years.

"Santa Muerte was going to offer us money," Meraz said.

Asked if she thought she had received anything, she answered with a profanity, her voice breaking: "What can she give you? Nothing."

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tagged : No tags for this article

Headlines Newsview all

I Only Prefer Younger Men - Elvina Ibru

“I only date younger men! I'm not interested in older men. One of the reasons is that they are all married, and secondly they all ... Full story

Barack Obama Praises GEJ For Accepting Defeat In Elections

US president Barack Obama has praised outgoing president Goodluck Jonathan, for conceding defeat in the recently concluded presidential elections. USA Today reports that Obama gave the ... Full story

Nigerian President-Elect, Muhammadu Buhari Hails His Victory As A Vote For Change Video

The winner of Nigeria's presidential poll, Muhammadu Buhari, has hailed his victory as a vote for change and proof the nation has embraced democracy. Mr Buhari ... Full story

Wind Of Change Can Blow You Out If You Don't Do Well - Seun Kuti To Buhari

Late Fela Anikulapo’s son, Seun Kuti took to twitter this morning to commend the youths for voting for change, and also warned the newly elected ... Full story

Baby With Elephant Trunk Worshipped As God

A baby girl born with an “elephant trunk” is being worshipped as a Hindu god in a village in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, in northern India.The ... Full story

Olusegun Obasanjo Cheer Buhari, Assign Him On Reunion

Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo who has publicly shown his support for Major-General Muhammadu Buhari ahead of the elections, has congratulated him over his victory. In a ... Full story

I Kept My Word On Violent Free Elections - Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan has told his supporters and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to rather celebrate and not mourn because he has kept his word ... Full story

Goodluck Jonathan Concedes Defeat, Congratulates Buhari

President Goodluck Jonathan has congratulated the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on his victory in the Saturday’s presidential election. A top ... Full story

Muhammadu Buhari Wins Nigeria's 2015 Presidential Election

Election commission declares victory for former military ruler, Muhammadu Buhari, over incumbent Goodluck Jonathan. Nigeria's election commission has declared Muhammadu Buhari the winner of the country's ... Full story

Analyst Project Muhammadu Buhari As President-Elect With 95% Polling Units Collated

Political Analyst project Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of last weekend’s presidential election based on collated poll results from ... Full story

PDP Wins Presidential Elections In Rivers State

Prof. John is RO of Rivers state LGAs: 23 NO of POLITICAL PARTIES: 14 REG. VOTERS: 2,324,300 ACCR VOTERS: 1,643,409 AA: 1066 AD: 1104 ACPN:525 ADC:1031 APA:513 APC:69,238 CPP:577 HOPE:542 KOWA:2274 NCP:565 PDP:1,487,075 PPN:492 UDP:303 UPP:156   ... Full story

Comment on: Human sacrifices suspected along Mexico border

Rate this article

0

Breaking News

Gareth Bale Becomes Fastest Player On Earth (FULL LIST)

Former Tottenham Hotspur player and wales man has been name as the fastest player on earth, beating Rinaldo, Theo Walcott and others …. See full list ... Full story

Ships With Petroleum Products Arrive Lagos Ports

Eight ships laden with petrol, aviation fuel and kerosene had arrived Lagos ports, waiting to berth. The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) stated this in its daily ... Full story

CONGRATULATION GEN. BUHARI MUHAMMADU, NIGERIANS AWAITS CHANGE!

Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders ...

We Will Miss Our First Lady...Emma Nyra

Triple MG first lady, Emma Nyra has congratulated Nigerians for a peaceful conduct for the attainment of another democratic era in 2015. Emma who joins the ...

Internet better in promoting songs than marketers--Artiste

An artiste, Mr Aginam Benjamin, says the use of the internet to promote songs is better than using marketers. Benjamin told the News Agency of Nigeria ...

Davido’S Uncle Wins Senatorial Seat In Osun State

A super wealthy family Indeed. Former governor of Osun State, Isiaka Adeleke has won the Osun West senatorial district, reports National Mirror. Adeleke, who is also ...

2face Praises GMB, GEJ and Jega Over Election Success

As the chairman of the Independent National Electorial Commission (INEC) finally announced the winner of the 2015 Presidential elections, many encomiums have continued to come ...

Omoni Oboli Congratulates Nigerians After Supporting GEJ

How many Nigerian celebrities would like to be Mrs Elliot? Well, it seems the tone of Nolllywood actors who supported the President Jonathan led administration ...

Jonathan Paved Way For Transparent Democracy—Charles Novia

Nollywood producer and social commentator, Charles Novia, has hailed President Goodluck Jonathan for strengthening democracy in the country. The controversial showbiz personality said he never regretted ...

We Will Miss GEJ’s Gentle Attitude...Okey Bakassi

Many Nollywood actors have began accepting their fate on the outcome of the 2015 Presidential election result by INEC as they gradually sum up the ...