The Rise of the Cult of Death

Her shrines can be found in the lairs of the most violent criminal gangs, her worshipers are known to have committed verified human sacrifices, and her cult has spread from secret temples in rural Mexico to almost every large city in America. Santa Muerte -- the death goddess of Mexican narco-cults -- has arrived in America and established a foothold in our communities that will be impossible to dislodge. While many are rightfully concerned about jihadists crossing our southern border, there is another death cult spreading among us that is just as dangerous as Islamic terrorists.

The origins of the Santa Muerte cult are a mystery even to adherents. One common myth is that a 19th century Brujo chaman (witch doctor) had a vision of the goddess who ordered the creation of the cult. This supposedly happened near Veracruz. However a report prepared by Kevin Freese for the Foreign Military Studies Office points out many devotees claim the Santa Muerte cult has existed for thousands of years in secret, only becoming widespread under the Aztec rule. Worshipers claim that this “saint” is actually the goddess Mictecacíhuatl, who was said to eat the dead and was worshiped by skinning human sacrifices alive.

Little wonder that the Catholic Church officially describes the veneration of Santa Muerte as devil worship. Still, many Mexicans who consider themselves Catholic make offerings to the black goddess for protection, success, or vengeance.

While the origins of the cult are murky, what is clear is its association with crime and Mexico’s brutal cartel war. In 2008 police found a shrine to Santa Muerte where members of the Zetas paramilitary were sacrificing rival drug members. In that case, 11 men were decapitated and their heads were burned in a clearing.

The brutality of those slayings mirrors the crimes of Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, whose coven regularly sacrificed Mexicans to empower his Nganga -- an altar made from human body parts believed to contain a familiar spirit enslaved to the magician. The group’s murders would have gone undetected for years had they not made the mistake of abducting an American tourist named Mark Kilroy. Authorities were forced to investigate the disappearance and found Kilroy’s brains in Constanzo’s Nganga.  Ultimately, Constanzo and his group were charged with 16 ritual murders.

There were 74 known ritual murders in Mexico City at that time. Fourteen of the victims were infants.