Alleged Cult Linked to Mexico Killings
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 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 Latinos in the United States.
The killings have shocked the copper-mining village of Nacozari, on the edge of the Sierra Madre, and might be the first ritual sacrifices linked to the popular saint condemned by the Roman Catholic Church. Known as flaquita, or “the skinny one,” the figure known as Saint Death is portrayed as a skeleton wearing a hooded robe and holding a scythe, much like the Grim Reaper.
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 buried near 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 thought to lead the group. “This has been a tragic thing for all of us.”
Jose Larrinaga, spokesman for the Sonora attorney general’s office, said Silvia Meraz, 44, was the cult leader. Seven people related to her were detained: her boyfriend Eduardo Sanchez and her father, son, three daughters and a daughter-in-law. No formal charges have been filed pending further investigation.