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Mexican folk religion involving human sacrifice devoted to “Saint Death” gaining status among criminals

July 20, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Mexican folk religion involving human sacrifice devoted to “Saint Death” gaining status among criminals

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A folk religion in Mexico that involves human sacrifice and devoted to “Holy Death” is increasing in popularity among drug traffickers and violent offenders, leading officials in Texas and the Catholic Church to urge against honoring La Santa Muerte or “Saint Death.”

Church officials are speaking out against the religion dedicated to La Santa Muerte, which means “Holy Death” and “Saint Death,” that has steadily gained notoriety since the 1980s among Mexican-American Catholics.

“She’s not a saint. There is nothing good that can come out of praying to her,” Sante Fe Archbishop John Wester stated back in February. “We have saints who represent the teaching of Jesus Christ. This is an aberration.”

Wearing a black nun’s robe and carrying a knife in one hand, “Saint Death” appeals to individuals seeking all manner of otherworldly help, from fighting off wrongdoing and seeking vengeance, to people praying for protection for their drug shipments.

Suspected followers of Santa Muerte blocked the road to Playa Bagdad to protest the mayor of Matamoros, Leticia Salazar, who ordered Navy personnel to destroy an altar dedicated to the cult of the holiest death (Proceso)

Followers recite Catholic prayers and establish shrines in the saint’s honor.

In Mexico and the U.S., the Catholic Church condemns the skeleton “saint,” and advises that this kind of worship is spiritually dangerous. In February, Bishop Mark Seitz and Bishop Michael Sis in Texas joined their counterparts in Mexico in warned Catholics to avoid worshiping the folk saint and referred to her as “antithetical” to Jesus Christ’s teachings.

Law enforcement in Austin, Texas said that the religion has grown to be prominent among drug smugglers and other criminals.

“We’re seeing more criminals praying to Santa Muerte,” Robert Almonte, a former narcotics investigator, said.

Almonte, who now presents seminars across the U.S. educating authorities on the signs of the religion, said that law enforcement has “encountered elaborate Santa Muerte shrines” when raiding homes on search warrants.

Authorities in Austin told KVUE that they have not seen any ritualistic murders in the area, but in two separate incidents, the names of a judge and probation officer were discovered on a piece of paper.

Although Santa Muerte is not officially recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church, Santa Muerte’s popularity has grown in Mexico

“Their hope is to have something bad happen to them, and they might be able to go free from their cases,” an undercover cop said to KVUE.

A kidnapping by members of the Gulf Cartel in 2008 of rival Sinaloa Cartel members featured executions in public Santa Muerte shrines.

Earlier this month, a massacre of over two dozen prisoners in a Mexican prison is alleged to be linked to a Santa Muerte ritual.

The murder of 28 inmates at the Las Cruces jail in Acapulco included killings “in a ritual to Santa Muerte” headed by drug traffickers.

State officials declined to comment on the ritual aspect of the killings, but Roberto Alvarez Heredia, the security spokesperson for Guerrero state, said in a statement that the massacre started because of “constant dispute between groups inside the prison.”

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