Monday, January 3, 2011

The Saints of the Drug Cartel

(I find this fascinating but I don't know why. My thanks to Liz for doing all the research for this post.)

Santa Muerte is thin.


U.S. Marshal: Religious items can be used to help target drug lords

by Audrie Palmer
Midland Reporter-Telegram

Nearly 200 agents and officers from West Texas law enforcement groups took part Thursday (12-16-2010) in a daylong training class geared to helping them recognize religious tools criminals use in the Mexican drug underworld.

"A lot of these officers are not aware they're using this as protection. (The class is) to help them become familiar with the different images and icons and to enhance their safety," U.S. Marshal Robert Almonte said. "The bottom line is the criminals pray for protection from law enforcement. They pray all the way up to God and all the way down to the devil."

Almonte has been traveling around the state of Texas giving the presentation to area agencies and setting up displays of religious sentiments, including candles and crosses, he's collected over the course of his career. A model replica statue of Santa Muerte -- the "saint of death" -- stood on a folding table near the front of the classroom.

Authorities say that many involved in drug rings continue to add different religious elements to their homes and the use of these elements are spreading around the United States.

"It's another weapon the cartel is using, and they've been using it for awhile," Almonte said.

Investigators believe recognizing religious elements and sacred items used for rituals will help to aid officers working in the field and alert them to possible criminal activity.

The popularity of such elements presents a challenge to many officers, Almonte said, and law enforcement should not rely solely on the religious aspects but conduct further investigations into the crimes.

Still, recognizing one or more of the items displayed could be a possible indicator of criminal activity.

Many who own the icons and images also have the beliefs embedded into their hearts, souls and minds, Almonte said, and they continue to believe in their faith even after they've been arrested.

Authorities are hoping their investigators and officers will make the association between some of the images and illegal activity happening inside community.

"This is an additional tool I want to leave with you guys. I think we all agree criminal activity is evil. I want to take you on a journey to the dark side of that activity," said Almonte, starting the Powerpoint presentation for the class. "The things you are going to see are of importance. It could be a matter of life and death."

Audrie Palmer can be reached at



Benjie said...

Sorry for off-topic comment, but:

Before we get too far into 2011, I thought I should drop by and wish you guys at Frogtown a 'Hoppy New Year!'

Lord's blessing on you this year and all to come.

David Kirk said...

Thank you Benjie, and may God richly bless you and your family in 2011!

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