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

Joy Williams, 23 Year Old Nigerian Dies In Thailand After Illegal Buttock Augmentation Surgery

Joy Williams, 23, from Thamesmead, was described as a 'caring and funny' girl who was 'loved by everybody. She died on October 23 after travelling to ... Full story

Nigerian Soldiers Arrested For Working As Spies For Boko Haram

Soldiers in Nigeria’s military may be working as moles for Boko Haram, giving the terrorist group vital information about the military’s strategies and tactics. News site, ... Full story

Centers for Disease Control Admits Ebola Can Be Spread Through The Air

Ebola is a lot easier to catch than health officials have admitted — and can be contracted by contact with a doorknob contaminated by a ... Full story

Boko Haram Terrorists Invade Adamawa State, Besiege Mubi

Hundreds of Nigerian soldiers are reportedly leaving the town of Mubi in Adamawa State, as members of the terrorists’ group, Boko Haram, make advances to ... Full story

Nigeria's First Lesbian Wedding Takes Place In Lagos

The end times are finally here. Some of the things we used to say can never happen in Nigeria are beginning to unfold and unfurl ... Full story

Stephen Keshi Returns As Coach of Super Eagles

Chris Giwa, the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) Chairman who was restored to office on Thursday by a Jos court ruling, said on Monday that sacked ... Full story

Escaped Chibok Girl Reveals How Boko Haram Militants Raped, Beat Them Every Night

He soon began to threaten me with a knife to have sex with him and when I refused, he brought out his gun, warning that ...

Kenneth Okolie, Former Mr Nigeria Eyes Politics

Nollywood actor and model, Kenneth Okolie, has disclosed that dating an actress is the worst mistake an actor can make. The former Mr. Nigeria, who is ...

Pastor Enoch Adeboye Condemns Marriage

 Contrary to what the bible says that a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall ... Full story

Senzo Meyiwa, South African Captain And Goalkeeper Shot Dead By Cell Phone Thieves

The South African police have confirmed that its national football team’s captain and goalkeeper, Senzo Meyiwa, 27, have died after being shot at his home ... Full story

TB Joshua To Compensate Families Of Victims $4,500 Each

 The General Overseer of Synagogue Church Of All Nations, Prophet T.B Joshua has said through the church spokesperson, Kirsten nematandani that, the church will be ... Full story

Comment on: Human sacrifices suspected along Mexico border

Rate this article

0

Breaking News

I Enjoy Kissing in………Femi Ogedengbe

Nollywood actor cum director, Femi Ogedengbe, has revealed that challenges faced in the movie industry is about trying to do things out of the ordinary ...

Nigeria escape FIFA ban again as court dismisses case against NFF

Nigeria on Thursday escaped the wrath of FIFA as Justice Ambrose Allagoa of the Federal High court sitting in Jos, Plateau State on Thursday withdrew ...

As Politicians, We Will Still Be Loyal……..Kate Henshaw, Desmond Elliot Reveals

Politics could be described as a game for the strong and brave minds and at the end of the tunnel, the best or favoured candidate ...

Go Back and Apologize to People you Have Offended………Segun Arinze advises

Veteran Nollywood actor, Segun Arinze, who has had a share of the good and bad sides of a celebrity, has disclosed that stardom comes with ...

I Was Given A Baby Girl in The Dream……….Actress, Uche Ogbodo Reveals

Rumours will come and go likewise challenges but what keeps one going is the ability to stay strong especially when those rumours are not true ...

I Closed my Night Club Because I Want to Repent………. Akeem Shodeinde

Popular Lagos socialite and Movida night Club boss, Akeem Shodeinde, in an interview with Encomium Magazine, disclosed that the reason for the closure of his ...

Nigeria Escapes FIFA’s Axe

After the Football’s world governing body FIFA had given African champions Nigeria until midday on Friday to overturn the court ruling and reinstate Pinnick or ...

Nigerian celebrities Pray for Ice Prince

Today, Thursday October 30, super talented rapper, and Chocolate City artiste, Ice Prince tops another year on planet earth.The father of one who recently dropped ...

How Majek Fashek Was Dragged Out Of Stage

The annual Felabration may have come and gone, but memories of happenings at the well-attended event linger on the mind of many that thronged out ...

Letter To All My Single Ladies...

Once upon a time, I experienced a very thunderous breakup and for the next couple of weeks, I spent time, copious amounts of time, pouring ...