Drug traffickers are making human sacrifices to ‘Saint Death’

A Mexican folk religion involving human sacrifice and devoted to “Holy Death” is growing in popularity among drug traffickers and violent criminals, prompting Texas officials and the Catholic Church to warn about honoring the so-called “Saint Death.”

Authorities are speaking out about the religion devoted to La Santa Muerte, which translates to “Holy Death” and “Saint Death,” that has gained popularity steadily since the late 1980s among Mexican-American Catholics.

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

Clad in a black nun’s robe and holding a scythe in one hand, Santa Muerte appeals to people seeking all manner of otherworldly help, from fending off wrongdoing and carrying out vengeance to people seeking protection for their drug shipments against law enforcement.

Devotees often use Catholic prayers and set up shrines in “her” honor.

A figurine of Santa Muerte in Tepito, a violent neighborhood in Mexico City.Getty Images

The Catholic Church in Mexico and the U.S. denounces the skeleton “saint,” and warns that worship is spiritually dangerous. In February, El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz and San Angelo Bishop Michael Sis in Texas joined their counterparts in Mexico in urging Catholics to avoid honoring the folk saint and called her “antithetical” to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Law enforcement officials in Austin, Texas told KVUE the religion has become prominent among drug traffickers and violent criminals.

“We’re seeing more and more criminals that are praying to Santa Muerte,” Robert Almonte, a former narcotics detective, told the television station.

Almonte, who now gives seminars across the country educating law enforcement on the signs of the folk religion, said officers are now “encountering elaborate Santa Muerte shrines”…

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