Throughout Mexican cartels, a chilling tradition has spread, establishing devil-worshiping cults that mutilate and sacrifice their victims.
Aztec and Mayan death gods can be traced back to Santa Muerte, or Saint Death.
Several devotees call themselves Catholic, but the church frowns on the cult, which is estimated to have millions of adherents.
It was originally set up by Enriqueta Romero in the dangerous Tepito neighborhood of Mexico City in 2002 after her son gave her a figure of Saint Death, and cartels have since latched on to it.
Using human skulls and other body parts, a Mexican gang built an altar for Santa Muerte last October.
During a raid on five houses in the Peralvillo and Tepito colonies in the municipality of Cuauhtemoc, Mexico City, cops uncovered the horrific site.
The 31 suspects, 26 males and five females, are all accused of belonging to the cartel of La Union Tepito.
Reportedly, the altar consisted of Satanic masks and held human remains along with blood-covered skulls.
Martha N. citizen. They said that every three days they performed satanic rituals to become “resistant” to bullets.
In 2017, in a Santa Muerte ritual with the involvement of guards, 28 prisoners were murdered in Acapulco jail, Reforma reported.
They were killed with sharp knives and firearms in the southern state of Guerrero during the massacre.
Some of the victims were decapitated, the Catholic News Agency claimed.
Los Zetas, which were founded in 2010 by corrupt members of Mexico’s elite special forces unit, have also come to embrace Santa Muerte.
The headless torsos of 43 men and six women were dumped in 2012 on a highway between the US border and the northern Mexican city of Monterrey.
Some of the corpses, the Washington Post reported, were identified with Santa Muerte tattoos.
Back in 2011, David Romo Guillen, the church leader, was arrested and charged with abduction and extortion.
Authorities alleged that the Latin American News Dispatch announced that he and eight others dressed as members of Los Zetas to abduct two elderly people for ransom money.
Guillen, who reportedly obtained from the kidnappers 25,000 pesos (£922), says he was tortured.
“They held my head in the water and beat me … I was like a guinea pig … and I was psychologically abused,” he said.
He was, however, sentenced to 66 years in prison the following year for his involvement in the kidnapping.
The pattern itself is not limited to Mexico’s criminal organizations.