Santa Muerte is a sacred figure venerated in Mexico, probably a syncretism between Mesoamerican and Catholic beliefs. The name literally translates to "Holy Death" or "Saint Death." Mexican culture since the pre-Columbian era has maintained a certain reverence towards death, which can be seen in the widespread Mexican celebration of the syncretic Day of the Dead.
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Constanzo moved to Matamoros, a Mexican border town. The actual reason for his move is unknown, but it is speculated that he moved so he could smuggle drugs across the Mexican-American border. In Matamoros, he met Sara Marķa Aldrete, a college student. They started dating and she dropped out of school to be with him. The two practiced Palo Mayombe, or the dark side of Santeria, which included ritual sacrifice and the wearing of animal bones. Constanzo was the High Priest of Palo Mayombe and Sara the High Priestess. They employed dark forces to protect themselves and, allegedly, Constanzo's followers from harm.
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Reuters) - Police running scared from drug gangs in one of Mexico's deadliest cities are using bizarre rituals involving animal sacrifice and spirit tattoos to seek protection from raging violence on the U.S. border.
In secret meetings that draw on elements of Haitian Voodoo, Cuban Santeria and Mexican witchcraft, priests are slaughtering chickens on full moon nights on beaches, smearing police with the blood and using prayers to evoke spirits to guard them as drug cartels battle over smuggling routes into California.
Other police in the city of Tijuana, across the border from San Diego, tattoo their bodies with Voodoo symbols, believing they can repel bullets.
"Sometimes a man needs another type of faith," said former Tijuana policeman Marcos, who left the city force a year ago after surviving a drug gang attack. "I was saved when they killed two of my mates. I know why I didn't die."
Violence has exploded along the U.S. border since President Felipe Calderon set the army on drug cartels in late 2006. Turf wars have killed 19,000 people across Mexico over three years.