Carl Raschke - Painted Black, pp 3-26
(too old to reply)
Howard Duck
2004-10-01 20:51:18 UTC
If there are any sparrows reading this who claim that Raschke is a
"kook," and that his book contains errors on "nearly every page," some
of which are "ludicrous," Then I demand to know exactly what errors
the sparrow claims exist in the following first chapter of Painted
Black. I also request sources that claim to have completely
"debunked" the book so that I may check out their claimants and their
claims, so that I may determine if they are in fact either deluded or
else flagrant liars.

It is one thing to express an opinion as an opinion, and quite another
to declare an opinion to be fact - the latter is a lie. Moreover, if
one calls a person a "kook" without a solid basis, then the name
caller is him or her-self a kook and a fool. So, either put-up or
shut-up, sparrow.
U. Pruvit Ibleevit

Carl Raschke - Painted Black, pp 3-26


The Horror

My soul is dead. I am not a human being.
-- Mexican satanic cultist ALVARO DE LEON VALDEZ during a press
interview, following the discovery of the Matamoros murders

The fry-cake flat, desolate, and sparsely populated coastal plain that
follows the crook of the Gulf of Mexico from southern Texas down
across the Rio Grande was probably the last place on earth anyone in
American law enforcement would have expected to yield the deeper
secrets of the growing national menace of what is popularly termed
"satanism." And if it had not been for an astonishing series of
circumstances, coincidences, and missteps by one of the most notorious
cliques of satanic cultists in the region, the secrets would probably
have remained under wraps for much longer.

Before discovery of the gruesome remains of fifteen victims of cult
kidnappings and "sacrifice" on a remote ranch west of the Mexican
border city of Matamoros in April 1989, the multiplying reports of
"occult-related" crimes throughout the country, most of which had been
encountered by local police from southern California to New England,
were frequently met with suspicion and even ridicule by some
authorities. After Matamoros, the climate changed considerably.

The horror of satanic crime - often entailing deliberate and brutal
torture, mutilation, or dismemberment of victims - could no longer be
dismissed as Christian fundamentalist ravings, galloping social
hysteria, or the lurid sorts of media-inspired popular imaginings that
one recent author and cult apologist had termed "urban legends." Not
only were the bodies themselves visible to an international television
audience, the cultists' own confessions were trotted out in detail to
legions of journalists from both sides of the border, primarily
because of the coercive character of the Mexican judicial system and a
hard-driving, publicity-seeking Matamoros police commander. In
effect, the distasteful episode was dissected with probably more
intimacy and interest than the Charles Manson murders in California
almost a generation earlier. Press coverage was so thorough that it
even upstaged Geraldo Rivera, who before Matamoros seemed to have
cornered the market on satanist sensationalism.

As the newspaper and magazine articles began gushing forth, a new
perspective, not merely on the squalid Matamoros affair, but on the
intricate and generally overheated satanist controversy, which had
been building for years, flashed into view. What in the media had
taken on the aura of an ongoing, true-life, "Friday-the-Thirteenth"
style of horror script almost immediately seemed quite intelligible
without any kind of supernatural props behind it.

In fact, the Matamoros case conformed in almost textbook fashion to
what many criminologists and a few anthropologists had been saying
about the darker recesses of the occult for decades - it was a
"bonding" mechanism that ensured both loyalty and control within
tight-knit, conspiratorial groups. In this setting, the mechanism was
needed for criminal enterprise of the most elaborate and dangerous

The Matamoros cultists were drug runners who operated one notable
turnkey enterprise within the vast underground empire of Latin
American narcotraficantes stretching from Peru and Colombia through
the central Mexico mountains to the streets of America's cities.
According to the confessions of the accused, their distinct style of
"religion" - which the police wrongly at first identified with the
Afro-Caribbean traditions of santeria and then with its alleged
"shadow side" known as palo mayombe - had been improvised from a
variety of sources compassing Mexican peasant folk magic, the
Hollywood horror movie The Believers, and the warped fantasies of
Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, the charismatic cult leader who belonged to
the Mexican social celebrity network. Constanzo was eventually killed
in a shootout with federal police in Mexico City.

Such an ad hoc blend of the ancient and the contemporary, of cultural
kitsch and common superstition, of private folly and collective mania,
make up what is most appropriately called satanism, which is certainly
not a religious tradition in the usual sense. In the Matamoros story
are contained many of the important clues to satanism and its
present-day siege of American culture. But the story would never have
been told had not an unbelievable chain of events come into play.

Mark Kilroy, a premedical student at the University of Texas in
Austin, was about as much an all-American, fun-loving, career-minded
minion of the white middle class as any twentieth-century writer of
tragedy could have possibly designed. Indeed, Kilroy's destiny on
March 14, 1989, just one day before the ides of March, did not appear
to be anything other than the sort of banal beach blow-out that has
been the secular ritual of college students let loose for spring break
since the invention of beer and bikinis. Kilroy, along with a group
of old high school chums, joined the cavalcade of dented Chevys and
shiny vans en route from countless campuses in the South and Midwest
to what was the central portion of the United States' answer to Fort
Lauderdale - an austere and interminable stretch of sand known as
Padre Island. "Let's Padre" was the pun scratched with soap scum on a
few of the automobiles careening down U.S. 77 between Corpus Christi
and Brownsville at the southernmost swatch of Texas. It betrayed the
brash, literally devil-may-care flippancy and abandon of the annual
beach crowd.

Kilroy and friends had nothing more in mind than carousing and picking
up women. When they decided after a day at Padre Island to make the
trek across the Rio Grande from Brownsville to Matamoros on the
Mexican side, it was all in keeping with the step-by-step initiation
process of spring break celebrants. For years the Matamoros bars and
night clubs had brought in top dollar from a lowered drinking age.
When Kilroy's party had tired of beach blanket bingo, they headed for
the noisy bistros and brightly lit cabarets on Avenida Alvaro Obregon.
They ended up at a honky-tonk bar called Los Sombreros. Unbeknownst
to them, the previous summer this bar had been the site of a bloody
shootout between the son of a Matamoros nightclub owner and a sullen
thug nicknamed "El Duby." The thug was employed by the Hernandez
family, which allegedly controlled the bulk of the illegal drug market
in the area.

The gunplay had been part of an escalating trend of violence that had
a subtle but dramatic impact on the drug scene in the Mexican state of
Tamaulipas. This both ensured the growing influence of members of
Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo's bizarre cult and their ultimate
apprehension by the Mexican police, known as the federales. First,
the violence severely damaged the Hernandez family's presumed drug
supply lines from the south. The Hernandez family then recruited
Constanzo because of his ties to the Colombian cocaine lords. Second,
it contributed to a police shakeup in Matamoros, which brought into
the picture Juan Benitez Ayala, the Matamoros police commandante who
ultimately busted the satanists.

That night, however, things were fairly quiet at Los Sombreros, and
the Kilroy party soon left in search of a livelier atmosphere. They
stumbled into the London Pub, retitled for that week the Hard Rock
Cafe in order to entice spring breakers with the popular and
well-known American franchise name. The party was raucous, and Kilroy
faded into the nearly all-gringo bash until about 2 A.M. when the guys
reconvened and set off on foot for Brownsville, where they had parked
their car. Kilroy had decided to walk home a young coed, who had won
a Padre Island beach beauty contest, known as Miss Tanline. Just
before the bridge to the United States, Kilroy paused to say good-bye
to Miss Tanline, while his buddy Bill Huddleston snuck behind a tree
to relieve himself of too much beer.

When Huddleston returned, Kilroy was gone.

For about a week it was a routine missing person case which, because
of the violence and corruption south of the border, was bound to cause
more than average consternation among Kilroy's parents and friends.

Kilroy's disappearance coincided with a rash of assaults against
spring break tourists. An eighteen-year-old University of Texas coed
walking from Whammy's Bar to the international bridge had been gang
raped by four Mexicans. A Mexican truck driver had been robbed and
stabbed to death while pausing to pass through customs. Dean Scott
Buchanan, a University of Texas engineering student, was beaten and
robbed beside the bridge. And a guard at a Matamoros car wash had
been shot and killed by unknown assailants. Mexican authorities said
the impoverished neighborhoods near the river were chronic high-crime
districts and that inhabitants of the barrio had been known to assault
American visitors.

A $15,000 reward was offered by the Brownsville business community for
information concerning the whereabouts of Kilroy. The family, which
had inside connections to the U.S. Customs Service through an uncle in
Los Angeles, was able to trigger within a short span of time a
well-publicized search for their son. The task of tracking Kilroy
fell to special agent Oran Neck, a tough and highly regarded customs
official in the Brownsville area.

Customs investigators took Kilroy's drinking partners Bradley Moore,
Brent Martin, and Huddleston on a tour of the Matamoros nightclub
district in order to retrace what had occurred. The youths admitted
they had all been drunk, and it was not clear whether any
recollections were totally accurate. However, Huddleston remembered a
man with a facial injury motioning toward Kilroy in front of Garcia's
restaurant. Under hypnosis Huddleston described the stranger as a
slender Hispanic, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, who was dressed in a
blue plaid shirt with bright pants. The man, who spoke English, had a
rounded scar, a recent wound of some type, on his left cheek. Kilroy
had paused to talk to the stranger before he vanished.

For weeks police remained stumped about the Kilroy case. They
postulated foul play but could not come up with any motive or
suspects. If Kilroy had been kidnapped, they reasoned, ransom demands
would have been presented. Fox Television heard about the
disappearance and flew to Brownsville to recreate the events of the
night of March 14 for their popular series "America's Most Wanted."
Amid the brawling and reveling of spring breakers who still packed the
sidewalks of the Avenida, the Fox film crew took footage of Sombrero's
and the Hard Rock Cafe, where Kilroy and his friends had spent the
larger part of the evening.

A leading Hispanic politician from Texas also lent his public support.
San Antonio mayor Henry Cisneros called a news conference. Speaking
on behalf of the parents, he grimly but ardently declared, "I have no
presumptions about what one more appeal can do. I do know these are
very good people who have been dealt a bad hand." A few days before,
Cisneros had volunteered to assist in the case because, as the
Brownsville area sheriff put it, "he knows a lot of people in Mexico."

At the same time, two inmates in a Galveston jail made an attempt to
extort $10,000 from the Kilroy family over prison telephones,
threatening to cut off Mark's fingers if the money was not paid. The
plot was not uncovered by police until after the corpses were dug up
in Matamoros.

On April 9, a crucial break in the case occurred that could scarcely
have been predicted. Suddenly an invisible hand seemed to be working
to unravel the entire tapestry of weirdness, confusion, lack of
reliable witnesses, and, of course, the cloying silence of those who
had some true inkling of the situation.

For several days, Mexican and United States law enforcement agencies
had been conducting a joint drug interception campaign along the Rio
Grande. Roadblocks had been erected on both sides of the border in
order to search cars and snare suspects.

Serafin Hernandez Garcia, nephew of reputed crime boss Elio Hernandez
Rivera, approached one of these roadblocks - but he refused to stop.
Serafin had been indoctrinated with the idea that his immersion in
satanic practices would make him completely immune to the police. As
far as he was concerned, running a roadblock invited no untoward
consequences. After all, he was invisible. Unfortunately, it was not
an everyday police roadblock, which did often let known narcotics
traffickers pass with impunity. It was the federales backed up by the
Mexican army. All authorities had to do was follow Serafin to the
Rancho Santa Elena owned by his family and used for smuggling
activities. Police were looking for drugs, not Mark Kilroy. But
during the search, an American customs man, as part of a routine
procedure, showed a photograph of Kilroy to the ranch caretaker.

To his surprise, the caretaker recognized the face and acknowledged
Kilroy had been held at the ranch, pointing to a nearby storage shed.
American investigators found nothing unusual about the shed, which
contained melted candles, cigar butts, and empty liquor bottles. It
was just a lot of refuse, they concluded. Yet the Mexican cops went
into a frenzy. To them the leavings were the unmistakable signs of
the most wicked form of black magic. To both the bemusement and the
chagrin of American officials, the federales demanded that the shed be
exorcised before going any further. After calling in a Mexican
curandero, a specialist in "positive magic," to expel the demonic
presence at the ranch, the police took into custody Elio Hernandez
Rivera, Serafin Garcia, and two other persons from the ranch.

The Hernandezes confessed to the murder of Kilroy and began to reveal
all about the workings of the cult and its leaders. They fingered
Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, as well as a Brownsville college student
named Sara Villarreal Aldrete. She acted as the "high priestess" of
the group, or as Texas attorney general Jim Mattox phrased it in his
down-home drawl, "the witch." Aldrete was an honors student by day at
Texas Southmost College and a narcotraficante by night. At her home
in Matamoros police came across an assortment of "voodoo"
paraphernalia and a blood-spattered altar of sacrifice. Aldrete's
neighbors, her classmates, and her teachers naturally expressed
astonishment and dismay. As is always the case when the "nice" boy or
girl next door is unmasked as a vicious criminal, they cited
innumerable examples of her benevolence, industry, and sincerity.

Aldrete, however, had fled the scene of the crime along with
Constanzo, and there was much talk about her role as Constanzo's lover
and her "multiple personalities." As events unfolded, the press
learned that Constanzo a homosexual, rarely had sex with women and
that Aldrete had served principally as "bait" to lure members into the
cult or male victims to their doom. Although she insisted from prison
that Constanzo had taught her everything about magic, the story
sounded thin. Aldrete had probably picked it up within her own family
or childhood circle of affiliates - a common tendency within the
poorer strata of society along the Rio Grande.

Kilroy had been killed, police said, with the blow of a machete to the
back of his head. Later on, his legs had been hacked off to make it
easier to dispose of the cadaver. The cult had selected him out of
the swarms of college students because, it was first reported, he bore
some physical resemblance to Constanzo, who ordered his disciples to
pluck a spring breaker for the ultimate sacrifice. Snatching an
American Anglo off the street was always risky business, but Constanzo
was bold enough and crazy enough to do it. The danger heightened the
possibility of gaining incredible "magical power."

Among other things the cult members were convinced that the kidnapping
and sacrifice of an American would secure them supernatural protection
on the north side of the river, which they currently lacked, as a
recent series of drug busts and the breakdown of their supply lines

Kilroy's body parts were boiled in an iron kettle with animal blood.
The cult members then passed around and drank the "witch's" brew as a
kind of sickening "communion" among themselves. They believed that
the blood and the energies of violence it contained would make them
unconquerable soldiers in the war of evil.

Matamoro's police commandante Benitez knew he had an international
sensation on his hands. In a manner quite alien to American judicial
practice but to the delight of journalists, he paraded the suspects
before television cameras and prompted them to make lengthy
confessions for the public record. Meanwhile, other bodies were
found. Benitez made suspect Sergio Martinez dig up the decapitated
corpse of a teenage boy in front of the eyes of the press. A few
hours later a local farmer was asked to remove a stack of hay so that
more bodies could be sighted. About the same time the federales
smashed into Constanzo's house in Atizapan, a Mexico City suburb, and
confiscated electronic high-security equipment, weapons, and two
marble altars.

According to neighbors, Constanzo and his cohorts had pulled out a few
nights before with large, unmarked boxes in tow. The largest combined
manhunt in the history of the Mexican and American drug wars was
launched. "We have never, ever, ever had the interest in any other
crime [that we have] in this," customs agent Oran Neck told reporters.

The extraordinary attention given by police was spurred not only by
snowballing media concern but by a strategic decision of American
authorities. With the avalanche of tips and reports coming in all
over the world, here was a rare opportunity to make some rapid headway
in mapping the movements and source of drugs in the Western

Contrary to the conventional American news reports during the week the
corpses were unearthed, the role of cultists in the disappearance of
Kilroy did not come as a complete surprise. As nordamericano
journalists learned the minute they began probing the cultural context
of the Matamoros murders, the practice and fear of black magic is
pervasive in the Rio Grande Valley. The legacy of witchcraft goes all
the way back to the Spanish conquest. As Marc Simmons, a contemporary
anthropologist writes, "On the lower Rio Grande, and below San
Antonio, an infusion of traits and practices from Old Mexico continues
to build innumerable links between witches along the border and their
fraternal kinsmen farther south."

It was not just that the current occult revival in the Western world,
connected with the "New Age" phenomenon, had brought back into the
mainstream of Hispanic societies the old, pre-Colombian beliefs and
ceremonies. Nor was it just that the American style of pop satanism
fashionable among alienated teenagers - associated with sexual orgies,
grave robbings, church desecrations, menacing graffiti, and animal
killings - had slunk into Mexico with the tourists and taken on a
native, virulent form. Ironically, it was that the relative success
of the U.S. government's drug interdiction campaigns in south Florida
had diverted on a major scale the Central American drug transport
channels to the long border between Mexico and Texas. The increased
drug activities along the western Gulf Coast made municipalities like
Matamoros "boom towns" of sorts. But this also brought in its wake
piranha-like competition among the traffickers, resulting in ever more
vicious, frequent, and barbaric incidents of killing.

In the darkening world of kidnapping, murder, torture, and
ever-present machine-gun fire, not to mention mounting pressure from
the American antinarcotics crusade, the Mexican drug "families" and
their operatives north of the Rio Grande began turning to a source of
"otherworldly" protection and encouragement that seemed to them
superlatively effective. The solution was black magic. The press and
its American academic commentators have consistently tried to treat
the Matamoros happenings as a freakish phenomenon that might be
clipped from the pages of National Geographic magazine or as an
anomalous sort of topic requiring a brief lecture in a
university-style Religion 101 course. Yet Constanzo's disciples were
not as out of place as the lofty Anglo mentality might surmise. They
were the ones who happened to have been caught. The word in the
underground, as a writer for a valley newspaper observed, was not how
rare and startling Constanzo's venture had been; rather, it was the
likelihood that similar horrid spectacles would eventually be brought
to light.

Other victims besides Kilroy included Ruben Vela Garcia, Jose Luis
Garza Luna, Esquiel Rodriguez Luana - all agricultural workers;
Ernesto Rivas Dias, a twenty-three-year-old welder on vacation in
Matamoros; and Jorge Valente del Fierro Gomez, a municipal policeman.
Del Fierro had been known in Matamoros as la madrina of the federal
judicial police. In Hispanic slang, a madrina is an employee whose
name does not appear on the payroll and who enjoys protection from law
enforcement while receiving a salary and collecting bribes for his
superiors. He also acts as a police informant while serving as a kind
of ombudsman with the underworld.

In the past, the anonymous residents of what Mexicans in the
Brownsville vicinity termed el otro lado - the "other side" of the
river - had simply refused to talk about what they knew was going on.
The narcotraficantes availed themselves of satanism the way the
Salvation Army uses the Bible. In fact, the locals who knew about
them had a special name for them - narcosatanistos. Those on el otro
lado would not talk, not only because they were terrified of everyone
in authority, from the lowest magistrates to the judicial police, but
more importantly because they actually believed in the power of the
Devil. A maquiladora, or American-owned factory on the border hiring
Mexican labor, had to be shut down temporarily because a piece of
machinery was thought to be hexed. Police commandante Benitez kept
strings of peppers and garlic as well as white candles in his office
to parry evil spirits. And when the federales first came upon
Constanzo's "sacrificial hut," or "devil's cathedral," on the Santa
Elena Ranch, where Kilroy and other victims had met their doom, their
first instinct was to summon a "white magician." In the end they
resorted to burning the place down - not for hygenic reasons but to
destroy the wicked "energies" of the spot.

If the natives were convinced that clouds of evil blew in and out of
the valley like so many July thunderstorms, they surely knew of
powerful sorcerers and occult bandidos who resorted, whenever
feasible, to doing tangible types of evil on the surrounding populace.
The Matamoros scandal arose mainly because it was a white, American
turista with family connections to his own federal government whom a
rather brash Mexican brujo, or "black witch," chose for his victim.
Otherwise, the mass grave that harbored Kilroy probably would have
been gorged with many more nameless skeletons. It was not kosher for
a Mexican satanist to abduct a blonde, blue-eyed American off the
street. The risks were enormous. But Constanzo wanted to gain the
magical "power"that came from pulling off such a high-stakes deal. It
was his arrogance, rather than his lack of orthodoxy, that caused the
dogs to bark.

At the ranch, Mexican and American law enforcement officials
uncovered a bloody altar, "voodoo" paraphernalia, La Palma cigars,
cheap rum, human body parts, animal bones, chicken and goat heads,
thousands of pennies, gold beads, and an iron kettle filled with the
most foul mixture of blood and flesh - a veritable witch's cauldron.
The fluid in the cauldron, which contained brains, hearts, lungs, and
testicles, had been drunk in regular rituals by the cult members to
"sanctify" themselves, or as Lt. George Gavito of the Cameron County
Sheriff's Department explained with a quote that made all the wire
services, "so the police would not arrest them, so bullets would not
kill them, and so they could make more money."

The animal remains belonged perhaps to the religious accoutrements of
Afro-Cuban magic, which had been growing in popularity among poor
Hispanics in America's urban centers. The act of removing the human
victim's vital organs, as they did with Kilroy, could be traced to the
remnants of the Aztec sacrificial customs, which the Mexican country
people refer to as santismo. In earlier times it was known as
"nagualism." The cops called it palo mayombe, but that was a
misnomer. Historic palo mayombe focused on the "power" supposedly
derived from bones of other criminals stolen from graveyards. The
more wicked the corpse had been in life, the more ferocious he would
prove in his etheric guise. The spinal column of a clean-cut gringo
kid from Santa Fe, Texas, who at one time might have made the
Mouseketeers, just would not have seemed very impressive to an
authentic palomayombist, even though white bones were valued more than
brown ones. Contanzo, like his American counterparts who had steeped
themselves in the fashionable black arts as dictated over the years by
such magical luminaries as Aleister Crowley and Anton LaVey, founder
of the Church of Satan, could only be called a Satanist. What made
him stand out was his extreme cruelty, which went with the drug

It is difficult to judge whether it was the drugs that created the
Matamoros horror or the satanic belief system. Most likely it was an
inseparable combination of the two. Both Oran Neck, the U.S. Customs
agent who put the feds in hot pursuit of the kidnappers, and Mark
Kilroy's father blamed it almost exclusively on drugs. Various
curanderos (Mexican herbal healers and magicians, who came out of the
woodwork to offer their opinions to newspaper investigators) claimed
it was all because of the prevalence of black magic. Constanzo's
cult, however, did not sacrifice and cut up human beings for sadistic
kicks. They had their own logically consistent, if not commonplace,

Their rationale was the same as that of primitive headhunters, who
have always believed that violence and gore have a supernatural nimbus
around them. In order to harness those supernatural forces, one must
kill, torture, and maim. The fact that those same gross and primitive
ideas could find their way into the thought mechanisms of educated
Mexicans in the twentieth century is not as implausible as it might
initially appear. The assault on the modern "rational" attitude
toward the universe has been in full swing worldwide among
intellectuals themselves since at least the late 1960s. Offbeat
religiosity has been the staple of cultural radicalism and artistic
chic since the Beatles journeyed to India and started meditating.
Constanzo lived not in a mud-block but but among the Mexico City
literati. He was a counter-culturalist who developed his own
"training program" for the drug cartels. At bottom, it was the
beliefs that carried the day.

The Mexican narcotics gangs, and particularly the Hernandez mob that
many thought virtually owned Matamoros, were specially known for their
apparently gratuitous cruelty. One of the Santa Elena victims, a
Mexican policeman, had been murdered in the most inhumane manner
conceivable: he had been slowly skinned alive. As it turned out, an
earlier and widely publicized incident of savage torture inflicted on
a drug-fighting peace officer - the murder of the American drug
enforcement agent Enrico Camarena in 1985 - was tied to the activities
of the Hernandezes. Their cruelty obviously was not merely to
intimidate their enemies, for it was often done out of sight. It was
more the expression of intense private passions. And those passions
were likely to be what we might describe as "religious" in character.

Constanzo used religion to win friends and influence people at all
levels of society and for a host of logistical purposes. At first he
seemed content to climb into the catbird seat with the Mexican
glitterati by playing the familiar role of charmer and soothsayer with
extraordinary "psychic" powers. But he quickly ascended, if he had
not already been there from the beginning, to the position of drug
captain in charge of the large-scale movement of contraband. At the
time of the Santa Elena bust, Constanzo was already under
investigation for smuggling illegal aliens into the United States.
Constanzo built his diverse satrapies of sordid crime by at once
scaring the pants off his clients, his flunkies, and his enemies with
his knowledge of "magic."

His expertise was hereditary rather than learned. A woman who knew
Constanzo's family in Miami, where he had grown up, told the
newspapers that his mother, Delia Gonzales Del Valle, "was in
santeria." Deha's mother had apparently also been a practitioner in
Cuba. Norma Brito said that when she moved into the house she had
bought from the family she found altar remains of santeria ceremonies.
Evidently, in order to keep the neighbors quiet, the family would go
out at night and leave headless chickens as well as dead geese and
goats in the streets and on doorsteps. Mutilated animals on
somebody's property are a common death threat in all forms of blood
cultism, including contemporary satanism.

The family may not have been into santeria per se; they may have been
paleros, or practitioners of palo mayombe. The issue of where
santeria shades off into palo mayombe, or where palo mayombe in turn
lapses into satanism, is more than an academic bagatelle. It touches
directly on the degree of potential criminal application of all occult
practices. Cult followers and their apologists, together with a
sizable portion of univerity social scientists who examine the more
unusual side of religious behavior, are wont to draw hard distinctions
between "bad" and "good" occultism, as if they somehow existed in
entirely different universes without common linkages or crossover. In
this context, palo mayombe is ipso facto "dark," whereas santeria by
definition is of the light. It is like saying that Jimmy Swaggart
could not have consorted with prostitutes, or Jim and Tammy Bakker
could not have skimmed off money, because ipso facto they were
"Christians." Verbal distinctions frequently can be wielded either to
tar or to exonerate a particular religious group without any attempt
to consider the connection between orthodoxy and deviance.

In the scramble to pin a label on Constanzo's obnoxious brand of
belief, the press was treated to some rather odd bending of categories
by the academic experts they interviewed. For instance, Rafael
Martinez, a cultural anthropologist from the University of North
Florida in Miami, who was called in by the Cameron County Sheriffs
Department as part of the inquiry into Constanzo, claimed the Santa
Elena horror was not even palo mayombe in the customary sense. "What
we've got here is an isolated case, a self-styled palo mayombe," he
said. Constanzo was a "psychopathic killer who took the practice of
palo mayombe into his own hands." Nor was Constanzo involved in
satanism, for "if you say demonic, you're looking at the Devil."

Whether Constanzo actually believed in the Devil is irrelevant - it
was mutilated corpses that made the difference. Such rhetorical
nitpicking tends to brush aside the fact that there is a dynamic of
involvement in the occult that under the right conditions erases most
of Technical distinctions between "black magic" and "white magic" or
between santeria and palo mayombe or its "perverted" forms. The
dynamic is, stated simply, the attainment of power for oneself and the
warding off, not the destruction, of adversaries. Satanism should
never be considered a religion per se; it is the carrying of magic and
intrigue in its violent hues to the utmost extremes. Constanzo was a
satanist, because he went beyond the basic moral and ceremonial
boundaries established by the magical traditions, which he had learned
at his mother's knee. The trespass enabled him to become something
quite different than scholars of religion would be trained to
consider, and therein lay his cunning and strength.

At the age of fourteen Constanzo was considered by his mother, Delia
Gonzales Del Valle, a "psychic" prodigy. According to Del Valle,
Constanzo "knew things." Supposedly, he had a vision that Marilyn
Monroe's death was not a suicide, and he gained something of a
reputation in his mother's immediate occult circles for his
out-of-body experiences and his predictions of the future. Whether
these recollections have any validity is somewhat beside the point.
It is clear from Constanzo's sketchy biography that he was not simply
a drug dealer and that the Matamoros incident was, as even Kilroy's
father began to reiterate within weeks after finding Mark's body, more
than drug violence. Constanzo and his gang did not use drugs
themselves. They were occult entrepreneurs who moved into the
drug-transporting business because of its enormous profits and who
enjoyed a competitive advantage other narcotraficantes lacked - they
were "invisible" to the police.

Constanzo's mastery of occult mind control was a talent he took with
him from Miami to Mexico City, and it accounted for his rapid rise to
power in both high society and in the tightly controlled,
Colombian-based drug cartels. Constanzo was, in fact, a Hispanic "New
Ager," the Latin American equivalent of a California psychic who
nonetheless converted his understanding of metaphysical mumbo jumbo
into a particularly successful criminal conspiracy. He combined his
knowledge of Afro-Cuban magic with mysterious and secretive Mexican
traditions of human sacrifice dating back to the Mayans and Aztecs.
It was not the Afro-Cuban, or "santerian," elements that gave
Constanzo's cult its ghastly pallor. It was the "Mexican mystique,"
witnessed by the Spaniards during the conquest, of blood and the
infliction of torture on human captives.

In Mexico City, Constanzo reportedly drew clients who would shell out
thousands of dollars per session for his psychic "readings" and ritual
"cleansings" (which involved pouring blood over a client) and his
knowledge of astrology. Those who visited him in the Zona Rosa,
Mexico City's tourist and nightclub district, included top government
and police officials as well as actors, singers, and other popular
entertainers. They would seek advice on such matters as when to
release an album, which motion picture to make, or in what real estate
to invest. Florentino Ventura, former Mexican chief of the
international police agency Interpol who committed suicide in 1988,
was also named by two of the cult members as one of Constanzo's

Constanzo apparently gained considerable influence among the civic
leadership of Matamoros by the same mystique. If he could not
persuade through the power of suggestion, he would often turn to
intimidation. Pop singer Oscar Athie told Mexico City journalists
that he had been painfully harassed for over a year by Constanzo's
people because he would not perform in concert for them and pay for a
cleansing. "They said that they were witches and that Constanzo had
powers, and for $2000 or $3000 I could be cleansed for good luck," he
said. "I told them I wasn't interested. They kept calling me. They
became angry and called back to say that I was going to die slowly of
a serious illness."

It is quite common for witches and others in the occult subculture to
bully and intimidate each other through "psychic warfare." Yet
Constanzo was, even at the outset, someone far more important than a
parlor-room "sensitive" or a self-employed tea-leaf reader. A
homosexual, Constanzo had also set up a male pornography ring, which
may have been his first serious link to the professional criminal
underworld. When the federales raided Constanzo's apartment in the
capital, they found numerous nude pictures of gay males. The cult has
been linked to a string of gorey homosexual killings in the Zona Rosa.

In May, Mexican police made further arrests of cult members, including
Enrique Calzada and Salvador Antonio Gutierrez Juarez, a.k.a. Jorge
Montes. At the time, police claimed that Montes had admitted helping
Constanzo murder a gay man in a Mexico City suburb. At the same time,
a Juan Carlos Fragoso was taken into custody. Fragoso was suspected
in the ritualistic murder of a transvestite named Ramon "Edgar" Baez
Elias in the Zona Rosa. The transvestite had been flayed and his
heart torn out while he was still alive in the fashion of the ancient
Aztec priests.

For Constanzo and his lieutenants, it was an easy step from
pornography to the drug trade. In fact, it was their entrance into
drugs that brought them to Matamoros in the first place. The
Hernandez family, which reportedly dominated trafficking along the Rio
Grande, had been steadily losing influence to the subsidiaries of the
better financed international syndicates through a series of gangland
killings of its key members. Up until about 1986 the Hernandezes had
purchased drugs from Casmiro Espinoza, called "El Cacho," who was
assassinated in Matamoros. On the death of El Cacho, Saul Hernandez
became jefe of the drug-smuggling organization, but he had only slim
ties to the top suppliers down south. A year later he was shot to
death in front of the Piedras Negras bar in Matamoros, and the stage
was set for Constanzo.

According to Commandante Benitez, Constanzo "accidentally" showed up
in Matamoros and met the Hernandezes. He agreed to tie them in with
the vendors and intermediaries they needed but only if he could
introduce them to his cult of human sacrifice. Constanzo showed the
Hernandezes how his black magic not only could make them ever more
Powerful but how they could brutalize their opponents with a gusto
that their traditional cultural scruples might have prohibited. When
Victor Saul Sauceda, a schoolmate of cult member David Serna and a
former Matamoros policeman, witnessed the murder of small-time cocaine
dealer Carlos de la Llata, he was grabbed by the Hernandezes and
carried to the ranch, where they flayed him.

It was not necessarily revenge for some significant criminal
indiscretion. Sauceda was for the most part an innocent. It was
suggested by one informant that Constanzo had told them the direct
experience of Sauceda's terrible torture would give them even greater
"power." In Mexican brujeria, or black magic, abject torture is a
strategic ploy to capture the soul of an enemy or victim. The soul of
the victim is taught through the ordeal to fear the murderer
completely and for eternity. At the same time, the "energy" from the
pain and fear of the victim is appropriated sacramentally by the
torturer in order to enhance his magical strength and theoretically
his soul. The idea is a very primitive one, but satanism has always
been a return to archaic psychology in some sense. The notion, spread
in the American media by certain "experts" who had little feeling for
what had happened in Matamoros, that the cult killings were the work
of "sick" people entirely misses the point. Constanzo and his
followers were not irrational; they were merely reverting to a magical
worldview and logic that were starkly imprinted in the pre-Christian
strata of their own society.

Many scholars, furthermore, would like to believe that the Matamoros
atrocities were relatively isolated, that Constanzo was some kind of
lone wolf and occult weirdo. But within a month after the initial
ballyhoo in the press had subsided, federal investigators began making
connection that placed the Matamoros situation in a much more sweeping
context. Customs agents realized that the slayings at the ranch bore
striking resemblance to mass murders committed about the same time at
the Mexican border town of Agua Prieta about 120 miles southeast of
Tucson, Arizona. On March 27, two Americans and three Mexicans from
the state of Sonora had been found shot to death in a shed. Two days
later, twelve more bodies were pulled out of a well and septic tank.
The corpse had been mutilated and tortured. Police also confiscated
225 pounds of marijuana, one hundred grams of cocaine, twelve
high-powered weapons, and eleven vehicles with highly sophisticated
communications equipment.

One of the victims in the Agua Prieta case was a Mexican police
official whose wife had been killed along with him. Customs
authorities said the torture killings in both Matamoros and Agua
Prieta followed similar patterns. The drug lords were not only taking
out police informers and their accomplices, they were doing it with a
very grisly flourish. One woman had her fingers severed from her
hand. On February 1, ten federales were arrested in Matamoros for
suspicion of robbery and drug trafficking. They later admitted to the
crimes and were found to have in their possession about $5 million.

In June 1989, federal drug agents raided a house in San Mateo County
south of San Francisco and came across a sacrificial altar, animal
organs, human skulls, and a human spinal column used in rituals. The
remains and paraphernalia were almost identical to what had been
unearthed at Matamoros. They included a cauldron stuffed with human
and animal body pieces as well as blood and sticks. A Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA) group supervisor in Sacramento
informed reporters that the suspects, who were Colombian as well as
Cuban, belonged to a massive cocaine trafficking network. The
suspects were Angel Rivera, 53; Dennis Belez, 35; Lazaro Jalarraga,
45; Harold Castaneda, 32; Gu1ido Trujillo, 29; and Edith Grajales, 26.

Exactly a year earlier, during a drug raid in Houston, law officers
found an altar and paraphernalia resembling what had been discovered
at Matamoros. The Hernandez ring was thought to be linked to the $20
million in cocaine seized in the raid. The FBI in Houston speculated
that many drug dealers in the metropolitan area were under the
influence of Constanzo in some way. The FBI indicated it had tracked
Constanzo coming in and out of Houston for the past year. Besides
lighted candles, police nabbed from the raid a statue of a figure that
looked like the Buddha and "paperwork" with the last name "Rivera"
written on it. In Mexico City, little statues of the Buddha were
Constanzo's trademark. Houston police linked the cult to drug busts
in Pasadena and Corpus Christi, Texas, as well.

Finally, the Texas attorney general's office decided to take a second
look at earlier statements by convicted mass killer Henry Lee Lucas,
waiting on death row, that he had been connected with a satanic cult
operating along the border of Texas and Mexico. Lucas had called the
cult the "Hand of Death." Lucas's credibility had been in serious
doubt because he had first "confessed" to the murder of 600 persons
all around the United States, then withdrew his statements and said he
was responsible for the death of only three victims, including his
mother. Three years earlier Lucas had drawn a map of cult killing
sites for a Catholic lay worker from Georgetown named "Sister" Clemmie
Schroeder, who had served as his spiritual advisor. Jim Boutwell, the
sheriff of Texas' Williamson County who aided in a Texas Rangers task
force that gathered the Lucas confessions, told a valley newspaper
that investigators had verified Lucas was involved in cult activities.
He also noted that he had seen a map similar to the one supplied by
Sister Clemmie.

Earlier Lucas had told the Dallas Times Herald that he was "going to
show them" that something large-scale and bizarre was going on. Lucas
had also insisted to another news reporter that he "belonged to a
cult" and that "for initiation you would have to go out and kill a
person." According to Lucas, the cult killed by contract while
performing ritual cremations and crucifixions of both animals and
human beings with the aim of bringing "the devil back to life." Lucas
contended a man in Shreveport, Louisiana, first approached him about
joining the cult, which had members all over the country. "They think
I'm stupid, but before all this is over everyone will know who's
really stupid," Lucas later said, "And we'll see who the real
criminals are."

The "real criminals" may not have been the affluent and well-educated
Mexican yuppies who tagged after Constanzo throughout his descent into
the hell of drug distributing but an even more recognizable and
sinister criminal organization-the notorious Chicago mob whose
pedigree runs back to Al Capone. Federal court documents obtained by
and described in the Brownsville Herald in July 1989 contained
allegations that thousands of pounds of cocaine and marijuana had been
siphoned across the border by the Matamoros cult to supply
high-ranking syndicate crime bosses in suburban Chicago.

The central figure in the network, according to the same documents,
was fifty-eight-year-old Manuel "Poncho" Jaramillo, a former resident
of Chicago Heights who at the time was based in Mission, Texas. His
colleagues included Albert Caesar Tocco, a reputed Chicago mob leader
who had been arrested by the FBI and charged in a forty-eight-count
federal racketeering indictment. Jaramillo was closely associated
with the Hernandez family and has been suspected of commandeering, not
only narcotics, but a money-laundering enterprise. The U.S. Customs
regional office in Houston confirmed an "ongoing investigation" was
under way into relationships between the Chicago mafia and valley drug

Federal scrutiny of the Hernandez family's connections with Chicago
organized crime began in August 1988. Confiscation by customs agents
of 597 pounds of Mexican marijuana from a fishing vessel in the Gulf
led to the arrest of a thirty-seven-year-old Harlingen, Texas man
named Michael Habimak, who was discovered to be a business partner of
Jaramillo's former wife in a Texas corporation called La Esperanza
Mining Company. La Esperanza, the Herald reported, said they imported
ore precipitate from northern Mexico, but customs agents surmised that
the company was a front for drug smuggling and money-laundering

The vice president of La Esperanza, according to Texas secretary of
state records, was businessman David McCoy of McAllen, Texas, a
federal narcotics suspect. A government motion entered in the case of
Habiniak stated that "investigation by the U.S. Customs has revealed a
criminal enterprise connection between some of Habiniak's associates
in the Rio Grande Valley and in Chicago, Illinois, with Albert Caesar
Tocco of the Accardo organized crime family." In January 1989, a
federal grand jury in Corpus Christi convicted Habiniak of conspiracy
and distribution of marijuana. Further investigation by the customs
service coupled Habiniak and Jaramillo to the drug-connected abduction
of Ovidio Hernandez Rivera, a Constanzo cult member, and his
two-year-old son. During Habiniak's detention hearings, federal
officials insinuated that Ovidio Hernandez and his family were locked
in closely with Jaramillo and the drug business. Three other members
of the Hernandez family have been identified by the Mexican
prosecution as ring leaders of the satanic cult.

Who exactly was Jaramillo? The Star, a Chicago Heights newspaper, had
profiled him as a "model citizen" in the late 1970s when he worked as
a superintendent at Ford Motor Company and was a Republican party
activist. Jaramillo, however, was named in a 1988 federal grand jury
subpoena as part of a continuing probe surrounding his alleged
connection with Tocco, the south Texas drug business, and the mayor
and the police captain of Chicago Heights. In July 1987, a
confidential informant set up a cocaine buy in Texas between Jaramillo
and an uncover agent for the DEA. Jaramillo showed the agent a
suitcase filled with $350,000 in cash and said he had spent about $6.5
million the previous day on a Mexican marijuana deal. Jaramillo had
warned the agent that "anyone who double-crosses me is dead."

The DEA then arrested Jaramillo and confiscated, along with the money,
a .45 caliber handgun and an Illinois license plate. Prosecutors
later dismissed the drug complaints against Jaramillo but kept him
under suspicion. Transcripts from federal courts also correlated
Jaramillo closely, not just with the Hernandezes, but with Tocco. One
document stated that "investigation by U.S. Customs has revealed a
criminal enterprise connection between [Jaramillo] in the Rio Grande
Valley and in Chicago, Illinois, with Albert Caesar Tocco of the
Accardo organized crime family." Tocco, who comes from Chicago
Heights, has been described by the FBI as a major crime boss. He has
been indicted on 172 separate violations of the Racketeer Influenced
Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act, and a bureau wanted poster has
characterized him as "a known member of an organized crime family in
Chicago ... sought in connection with his involvement in controlling
'street tax' concerning extensive 'chop shop' activities, gambling
operations, prostitution activities, and the control of land used for
the disposal of toxic waste."

It may well have been that the top-secret structure of the criminal
organization that ran drugs from Mexico through south Texas to the
Chicago mafia was virtually the same as the makeup of the cult. One
of the mysteries associated with the supposition of broad-reaching
satanic cult networks has to do with the nature of the organization
itself. The conventional wisdom has generally held that the cults
themselves, particularly those of the simple adolescent variety, are
nothing more than loose-knit, entrepreneurial undertakings that are
stitched together only by common attitudes, literature, and beliefs -
if even those factors can truly my be construed as a common

Certainly, widely separate groups may all read Anton LaVey's Satanic
Bible, or they may cast spells from the occult classic The
Necromonicon. Yet they do not consort together, nor do they
"conspire" in some clear-cut, regimental fashion. A point regularly
missed, however, is that the conspiratorial tie-in between diverse
cells in the cultic organization may not have anything to do with
religion at all. On the contrary, the linkage may be quite mundane
and commercial. In this case the unifying element was overland drug

As the confessions of the Hernandezes underscore, satanism functioned
as a sort of motivational corporate training program for the family
business. It not only imparted a heady feeling of power and
invincibility to the adherents, in the same connection it inspired
terror and the will to maintain extremely tight loyalties - absolutely
critical assets for the drug trafficking profession. It is not at all
surprising that Constanzo and Sara Aldrete were infatuated with the
movie The Believers. The magical practitioners in the film are
portrayed as insuperable and almost all-knowing. In one telling
scene, a victim of the fictional cult screams in a jail-cell interview
that the "believers" can even "walk through walls."

Interestingly, the cult in the motion picture has a hidden hierarchy
that is not noticeable at first but becomes manifest as the plot
lurches toward the final, dramatic scene where the central character,
a police psychologist, is compelled to sacrifice his own son in the
presence of the assembled devotees. The Believers theatrically
strives to hammer home the sense that the cult, though protected by
its own facade of upstanding citizenry, is "everywhere," and therefore
its influence cannot be resisted. The surprise conclusion, in which
the hero's girlfriend turns out to have secretly converted to the
"religion," enhances this kind of psychology.

In a less stagey manner, the real-life saga of Constanzo and his
troupe of "believers" revealed similar themes.

First, the DEA speculated out loud that Constanzo actually had not
died in the shoot-out. The condition of his corpse initially
prevented positive identification, and Mexican newspapers reported
that two people had been observed fleeing the apartment building as
the federales closed in. Later, however, after Mexican police said
they had cross-checked fingerprints, U.S. Customs officially went
along with the premise that Constanzo was dead.

Second, after the shoot-out, Mexico City police handed over to
Commandante Benitez a diary from Constanzo's apartment ranking the
different cult members. Constanzo called himself padrino, or
"godfather." He referred to others as paleros, or "priests," and
rayados, meaning "marked with an arrow." Benitez said that there had
"to be someone higher than Constanzo ... someone he turned to when all
his problems started." Benitez implied that the transformation of
Cuban palo mayombe, which historically has relied upon bones taken
from graveyards, was due to cultic training emanating from the United
States. A self-described priestess of "white magic" named Charlotte
Chambers, a business partner with the Occult Shoppe in Houston, told
journalists that Constanzo had combined Aztec warrior sacrifice with
the use of satanism. Flaying alive was typical of the ancient Aztec
treatment of prisoners. "I am getting a very real picture that
someone in the U.S. had a lot so do with this," she commented.

Satanic killing as a "training exercise" was meant, quite simply, to
create both a megalomaniacal urge to murder without remorse - just as
terrorists and professional assassins are steeled to fear no one and
to shrink from nothing. When the police surrounded Constanzo's gang
in their Mexico City hideaway, Constanzo ordered Alvaro de Leon Valdez
to execute him with machine gun fire. It was the supreme gesture of
ruthlessness and obedience for a warrior occultist.

Indeed, to take the very life of the cult's own charismatic general,
its primal font of magical puissance, outdid any imaginable
'sacrifice' that might have been attempted. To refuse was to be
tortured in hell, as Valdez had tortured his adversaries in real life.
Valdez was nauseated at the prospect, yet he obeyed. He was only
"following orders." Valdez most likely could never have mustered the
courage had he not done a dry run with the murder of Kilroy.
Kilroy's death had reportedly earned Valdez his "stripes" within the
cult itself. When Constanzo demanded that Valdez cut off Kilroy's
legs, he instructed, "Do this so your fear will go away."

This particular snippet of Valdez's confessions raises the disturbing
question of whether the mutiliation of Kilroy did, in fact, take place
when the young man was still alive. Cutting off the limbs of a corpse
would seemingly not have been an ordeal nor stirred any significant
scruples for a hardened criminal such as Valdez. During that
"initiation," Valdez apparently was inculcated in the basic theology
of satanism, which involves a profession of undying hatred for
Christians. Kilroy, in fact, was about as emblematic of white, Anglo,
Christian culture as any victim to be chosen.

According to Valdez, Constanzo "said that all Christians were animals,
and when you earned your stripe your soul died." If Sara Aldrete had
in truth practiced "Christian santeria," as she insisted to the press
and to the police, she was probably despised equally by Constanzo.
But there is no evidence of that fact.

The key to the entire, sordid affair, however, was probably Aldrete.
In public interviews following her arrest, Aldrete gave off airs of
the poor, hard-working, little barrio girl who had raised her lot in
life through education and who had been seduced, then innocently led
down the spiral staircase into unspeakable infamy through the wiles of
Constanzo. She claimed she had not gone to Mexico City willingly with
Constanzo after the federale bust at the ranch but had been virtually
a prisoner against her will. Her close associates testified to the
quality of her character. "She was a normal girl, and there was never
anything unusual about her," reported her next-door neighbor.

Police in Mexico City, on the other hand, asserted that she exhibited
the traits of multiple personality. There was the charmer who
dramatically performed and protested her purity before the television
cameras, the haughty and defiant gang moll who tussled with federal
interrogators, and the vulnerable and tortured private soul who had
been observed alone in the jail cell. Israel Aldrete Villarreal,
Sara's father, had his own perspective. "She loved children, she
loved animals, she loved the beggars who need money," he said. "We
never saw anything bad in her." A taxi driver recalled how Sara had
given money to his niece after she had ruined her car in a
fender-bender on the streets of Matamoros.

Israel Aldrete did know that his daughter practiced santeria. He had
gone into her private room on the second floor and observed an altar,
likenesses of saints, and fruit but "nothing else, nothing satanic."
Sara stressed to police that her fascination with santeria had been
the outgrowth of her crush on Constanzo. "He was mysterious, and I
wanted to find out what it was about him, why he was like that," she
said. At first Constanzo beckoned to Aldrete with playthings of the
occult, according to her story. He would do readings of tarot cards,
make psychic predictions, and speak of strange and ungodly forces at
work in the universe. After a while he would "admit" that his powers
stemmed from his mastery of the art of palo mayombe, and Sara wanted
to learn much more.

It will probably remain a matter of involuted argument and speculation
for a long while whether Constanzo really practiced "classical" palo
mayombe or whether he was a satanist. The dispute is far more
academic and irrelevant than most people would care to admit. All
forms of occultism by their very nature are entrepreneurial and
experimental. Orthodox religions with their standard doctrines and
approved ceremonies rely on public observance and scrutiny. The plumb
line of piety is the commonality of practice. Just as we know when
the Pledge of Allegiance has been recited incorrectly because
"everybody" knows it by heart, so we can judge when a religion changes
course, even if we do not actually subscribe to its tenets, because
there are perceptible external standards for deciding whether it is
"traditional" or not.

In the occult, things are quite different. The occult, strictly by
definition, is opaque, private, and elusive. (The word itself derives
from the Latin meaning "obscure" or "concealed.") For that reason it
can be easily changed to suit the needs of the entrepreneur, even
though most occultists routinely insist that they are embroiled in a
form of devotion that is unchanging and antique in the extreme. The
history of the occult is the chronicle of thousands of strange,
constantly shifting, and half-intelligible "systems" of very personal
belief. When belief is encircled with barbed wire, horrid things can
easily take place inside the perimeter.

It would probably not be too wild a guess to say that Constanzo was
trained in palo mayombe or the black facets of santeria. But under
the pressure of succeeding in the drug business, he imported the
practice of human sacrifice, which he mimicked from well-established
but quite proprietary - and top-secret strands of Mexican occultism.
For instance, Mexico City police found eight corpses, including that
of Edgar Baez has at the bottom of a lagoon in the Zumpango River.
Each of the victims had been hideously tortured and their hearts
excised. Police ascribed the killings to Constanzo.

Constanzo's followers said he had educated them in the correct magical
procedures of the Aztec priests, who would rip the heart from the
victim's body cavity and gulp down the blood before it was drained
away. The belief, on which the ritual system of the greater Aztec
empire had been built, was that the throbbing heart sequestered the
energy of the sun, which had to be "fed" with constant sacrifices.
The ritual sites at Mexico City were stained red with the blood of
hundreds of thousands of victims killed in this manner. After the
sacrifice, the body parts - particularly the brain and vital organs,
which contained the "soul-life" of the sun - were boiled with blood in
an iron kettle for ritual consumption. The Spanish soldier Bernal
Diaz, who accompanied Cortez on his conquest of Mexico, reported
seeing many pots - the kind used by Constanzo - near the Great Temple
of Tlatelolco.

Constanzo also adopted the very old Mexican folk magic of the nagual.
The nagual is a guardian spirit - frequently a bird or some other
animal of "power" - with whom the magician identifies in order to both
master and participate in the universe of black magic. The popular
American author Carlos Castaneda has written extensively about a
fictionalized version of nagualism in his stories of the Yaqui Indian
sorcerer Don Juan. Nagualism, which has been preserved through
secret, magical groups in Mexican and Central American campesino
culture since the fall of the Aztecs, was frequently revived by
peasant revolutionaries. Maria Candelaria, the heroine of the Tzental
uprising of 1712 in Guatemala, was a priestess of nagualism.
Nagualism was never absorbed by Christianity, as was voodoo by Haitian
Catholicism. Its underlying tenet was fervent opposition to the
Christian/European conquest of the New World. Nagualism was basically
an underground warrior religion. The nagualists thought that through
their magical techniques they could render themselves totally
invisible to their enemies and impervious to their weapons. In
effect, Constanzo trained the Hernandezes, "warriors" in their own
right, in nagualism.

Human sacrifice has always been a high "prestige" item among black
magicians. Few would dare to do it, probably out of fear they might
be caught. But the one who, like the Nietzschean superman, would dare
to overstep the moral boundaries would certainly be rewarded
magically. Some of the documented elements of "conventional" palo
mayombe were discernible among the artifacts found at the shed. The
use of the big iron cauldron with blood and the remains of living
creatures mixed together is one recognizable feature. The cutting of
the arm, the burning of candles, the smoking of cigars to "attract"
the energy of the spirits - these items could be documented. Even
obtaining the brain of a mundele or "white person" as a special prize
can be glimpsed in the selection of Kilroy.

Yet the slaying and torturing of enemies in preparation for sacrifice
has been typical of even the most bizarre cultic form of palo mayombe
in the past. That practice, as indicated, came from elsewhere. In
palo mayombe itself, the bones of a person already gone are desired,
but in the occult mind-set it is the lingering powers of life, not
death, that the magician seeks to capture. Constanzo was obsessed
with death. It was his hatred of his victims, especially Anglos, that
distinguished his magic.

The use of magic as a camouflage for sadism and cruelty is to be found
in satanism per se. Mingled with the Aztec mystique of killing and
torturing adversaries in battle, Constanzo's "religion" occupied a
distinct niche, one that would only have emerged in the violent
subculture of the suppliers. If Sara was the "witch," as the Texas
attorney general vowed, it was something she learned, not in the
herbal shops of the santeros, but in the dark and decadent back allies
of the American underground.

The gang members themselves sought to protect Sara from the most
severe accusations and recriminations. To some of them, she was not
witch at all, but a benevolent mother figure ranking somewhere between
a school marm and the Virgin of Guadalupe. Alvaro de Leon Valdez,
among the most surly of the throng that had been arrested, said Sara
had never been present at the ritual murders. Sara herself maintained
that she had not even a hint of the cult killings until she had taken
flight with Constanzo and she heard about them on television. She
inquired of Constanzo, and he allegedly replied, "You want to know?"
That story, of course, did not jibe with her well-known obsession with
The Believers.

It requires some mental gymnastics to think that Aldrete could have
promoted the viewing of the film among cult followers but not had
death and murder on her mind. The Believers tells a story of a
bizarre, and unnamed, African religion that has been adapted by
Hispanic followers and white cultists in New York City and centers on
child sacrifice as a means of achieving divine powers and averting
personal harm. It has little to do with "Christian santeria" but
strongly suggests that beneath the veneer of gentle-minded pagans
beheading barn animals lurks a devious, criminal, and incredibly
powerful system of social influence and control.

The protagonist of the film, Dr. Cal Jamison, has his first brush with
the cult when his son Chris brings home a shell used in black magical
rituals in Central Park. By picking up the shell, Chris becomes
"chosen" as a sacrifice. The family's Puerto Rican maid sizes up what
is happening and endeavors to use the spells and ceremonies of
santeria, which she practices, to protect the child. The father
becomes scared and angry, rebuking the maid. It is never clear from
the movie to what degree "black magic" and "white magic" really stand
in opposition to each other, and one gradually infers that the two are
one and the same.

Meanwhile, a frightening web of intrigue, cult-directed scare tactics
against the father and his girl friend, and weird encounters develop
until Jamison learns how powerful and pervasive "the believers" truly
are. As he is sucked into their clutches, and he recognizes how
difficult it will become to rescue his son, he feigns complicity until
the finale when instead of thrusting the sacrificial knife into the
boy, as demanded by the cult, he stabs its leader, snatches Chris, and
runs. In the end he defeats the cult with bullets rather than

Ironically, the breaking of the illusion of magical invincibility as
portrayed in the movie is exactly what happened to Constanzo's
true-life "believers." The Matamoros cult members may have envisaged
themselves as the same type of secret, tentacular, cunning cadre of
"controllers" depicted in The Believers, and there is some suggestion
they may have regarded the conclusion of the story as a warning about
transgressing the rules of magic.

When the police surrounded his apartment in Mexico City, Constanzo
knew that his magic had failed. The same was true with the
Hernandezes, which paradoxically may illumine why they gave up and
confessed so easily. Just as an old fashioned Japanese samurai would
coolly and without remorse disembowel himself with his sword when he
had broken the code of honor, so the Matamoros cultists calmly and
with no show of conscience threw themselves at the mercy of the police
when it became evident the logic of their occult universe was no
longer in force. Satanist psychology will probably never be
delineated clearly in a court of law. Yet one can advance the
following hypothesis. In "sacrificing" Kilroy to gain extraordinary
power, Constanzo went out on a limb that would either make him
insuperable or totally vulnerable. As the cops closed in, his
followers knew that what he had claimed for power was really
overweening pride, or as the Greek tragedians called it, hubris.

And thus the spell was broken. But the siege of American culture
would continue. The canard of a large-scale, satanist conspiracy
would finally gain plausibility with an unusual twist that both
traditional believers and skeptics could accept at one level. The
conspirators were not black-hooded malefactors holding candle-lit
rituals in New York office buildings late at night. They were the
narcotraficantes themselves.

In December 1989 the U.S. Army invaded Panama and found in the
apartment of Gen. Manuel Noriega, who had been indicted in Miami on
drug trafficking charges, much the same paraphernalia as Constanzo had
owned. A detailed investigation by a military cult expert turned up
some quite amazing findings.

Chief Warrant Officer James R. Dibble, the army's chief of staff at
Fort Campbell, Kentucky, who teaches courses at an area college on the
occult, went to Panama right after the American invasion to analyze
the magical bric-a-brac in Noriega's possession. In Building l52 at
Noriega's headquarters at Fort Amador on the outskirts of Panama City,
Dibble came across a freezer that contained about 30 so-called
trabajos - black magical "weapons" aimed at both present and past
American presidents, U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, Henry Kissinger,
Panama's archbishop Marcos McGrath, and a Miami judge. The objects
were put into the freezer so that the actions of Noriega's "enemies"
might be "frozen," Dibble explained. In addition, a picture of Ronald
Reagan was covered in red candle wax with the intent of immobilizing
him. Noriega considered red an extremely powerful color. When
Noriega was apprehended by DEA agents, he was wearing red underwear -
to ward off spirits.

Other discoveries included an altar to St. George, a lock of Noriega's
own hair, buckets of blood, Buddha statues (which Constanzo also
kept), and representations of frogs. Like Constanzo, Noriega had
mixed together in the fashion of an electric blender a wide assortment
of native Hispanic black magic and European satanism. He had combined
santeria with brujeria, palo mayombe with Egyptian esotericism, voodoo
with the Catholic cult of Condomblé. According to Dibble, most Latin
American drug traffickers captured in North America have been found to
ply the black arts.

"They use it in a malevolent manner to protect themselves not only
from police but also from rival drug dealers. If we discount or do
not give credence to their religious convictions, we have
underestimated the enemy," he said. Apparently, many law enforcement
and religious experts had done precisely that.

Rather gruesome indicators that similar practices had made their way
into the United States turned up the previous fall in the Florida
Keys. The body of Sherry Perisho, thirty-nine, was found floating in
the ocean on the evening of July 19, 1989, the night after a full
moon. Her midsection had been sliced open and her heart removed. It
was the second incident in a relatively brief period and within a ten
mile radius that smacked of ancient Aztec ritual.

Monroe County Sheriff's investigator Ed Miller blamed the Perisho
slaying on what he termed "devil worship." "All we can determine is
that he killed her for her heart," he told the press.

Another victim was twenty-year-old Lisa Sanders, an invalid who lived
on No Name Key. Sanders had been invited to a party one night by some
teenage neighbors. She left the party either out of fear or disgust
with what was happening. The next morning police found her corpse
down the road from the party in a rock grotto. She had been strangled
and once again, her heart torn out.
Francis A. Miniter
2004-10-02 01:19:14 UTC
Post by Howard Duck
If there are any sparrows reading this who claim that Raschke is a
"kook," and that his book contains errors on "nearly every page," some
of which are "ludicrous," Then I demand to know exactly what errors
the sparrow claims exist in the following first chapter of Painted
Black. I also request sources that claim to have completely
"debunked" the book so that I may check out their claimants and their
claims, so that I may determine if they are in fact either deluded or
else flagrant liars.
It is one thing to express an opinion as an opinion, and quite another
to declare an opinion to be fact - the latter is a lie. Moreover, if
one calls a person a "kook" without a solid basis, then the name
caller is him or her-self a kook and a fool.
In your frame of reference, Howard, is there no other

So, either put-up or
Post by Howard Duck
shut-up, sparrow.
U. Pruvit Ibleevit
Carl Raschke - Painted Black, pp 3-26
The Horror
<really, really big snip>

Sounds like these characters are followers of the "old
religions", e.g. Aztec, Mixtec, of the Caribbean and Central
America. Why do Christians have to call them Satanists,
except to put into their own frame of reference something
they have no clue about. Human sacrifice was their long
before christians came along and brought Satan with them.
Howard Duck
2004-10-05 05:31:04 UTC
Post by Francis A. Miniter
Sounds like these characters are followers of the "old
religions", e.g. Aztec, Mixtec, of the Caribbean and Central
America. Why do Christians have to call them Satanists,
except to put into their own frame of reference something
they have no clue about. Human sacrifice was their long
before christians came along and brought Satan with them.
Foolish dodge. Satan was around (creating false religions) long before
Aztecs, et al. What's in a name? Satan is known by many names. But the
real issue is: Satan does exist, he is real, he was a liar from the
beginning, he comes but for to steal and to kill and to destroy.
Francis A. Miniter
2004-10-05 15:59:31 UTC
Post by Howard Duck
Post by Francis A. Miniter
Sounds like these characters are followers of the "old
religions", e.g. Aztec, Mixtec, of the Caribbean and Central
America. Why do Christians have to call them Satanists,
except to put into their own frame of reference something
they have no clue about. Human sacrifice was their long
before christians came along and brought Satan with them.
Foolish dodge. Satan was around (creating false religions) long before
Aztecs, et al. What's in a name? Satan is known by many names. But the
real issue is: Satan does exist,
And we know this because .... ?
Post by Howard Duck
he is real,
And we know this because ... ?
Post by Howard Duck
he was a liar from the
I think Kater will point out to you that in the story of Adam and Eve in
Genesis it was the serpent (whom you identify with Satan, though that is
not said anywhere) who told the truth.
Post by Howard Duck
he comes but for to steal and to kill and to destroy.
Great way to win converts.

Satan is just a figment of he superstitious imagination trying to
account for misfortune and the bad acts of others. Occam, however,
posited his great proposition that one should not unnecessarily increase
entities, meaning that wherever possible, natural explanations for
events should be accepted rather than proclaiming the the event resulted
from the intervention of some form of unseen actor.

So, for instance, when the Chinese attacked Japan by sea somewhere
around 1200 CE, and a typhoon destroyed the Chinese fleet and saved
Japan, the Japanese put it down to a "divine wind" and believed that
their special deity caused it to happen. But it was just a typhoon.
What would you say, for instance, about the storm that blew the Spanish
Armada northward in the North Sea to its destruction? Would you impose
an interpretation that depends on the intervention of god or devil?

Occam's rule applies to Judeo-Christian related events, assuming, of
course, that the narrations of the events have any accuracy to them at
all. You will notice that as we progressively have reached the modern
era and narrations have become more detailed and numerous, the ability
of the superstitious to impose an interpretation that depends upon the
intervention of gods, angels, devils, etc., etc., has become
increasingly more difficult. Example. On Columbus' first crossing of
the Atlantic, the metal top pieces on the masts were reported to have
glowed an eerie blue. At the time this was taken as some sort of sign
from God. Static electricity is a much easier explanation.

Francis A. Miniter
Howard Duck
2004-10-05 20:51:31 UTC
On Tue, 05 Oct 2004 11:59:31 -0400, "Francis A. Miniter"
Post by Francis A. Miniter
Post by Howard Duck
Foolish dodge. Satan was around (creating false religions) long before
Aztecs, et al. What's in a name? Satan is known by many names. But the
real issue is: Satan does exist,
And we know this because .... ?
You'll know when you meet him face to face.
Douglas Berry
2004-10-05 23:56:44 UTC
In our last thrilling episode, Howard Duck <***@geusnet.com> was
pushed over the cliffs of alt.conspiracy on Tue, 05 Oct 2004 15:51:31
Post by Howard Duck
On Tue, 05 Oct 2004 11:59:31 -0400, "Francis A. Miniter"
Post by Francis A. Miniter
Post by Howard Duck
Foolish dodge. Satan was around (creating false religions) long before
Aztecs, et al. What's in a name? Satan is known by many names. But the
real issue is: Satan does exist,
And we know this because .... ?
You'll know when you meet him face to face.
That's not any sort of proof.

Odin is real. My proof is that you'll come to meet him face to face
at Rangarok.
Douglas E. Berry Do the OBVIOUS thing to send e-mail
Atheist #2147, Atheist Vet #5

"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as
when they do it from religious conviction."
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Pense'es, #894.
Francis A. Miniter
2004-10-06 01:04:34 UTC
Post by Douglas Berry
pushed over the cliffs of alt.conspiracy on Tue, 05 Oct 2004 15:51:31
Post by Howard Duck
On Tue, 05 Oct 2004 11:59:31 -0400, "Francis A. Miniter"
Post by Francis A. Miniter
Post by Howard Duck
Foolish dodge. Satan was around (creating false religions) long before
Aztecs, et al. What's in a name? Satan is known by many names. But the
real issue is: Satan does exist,
And we know this because .... ?
You'll know when you meet him face to face.
That's not any sort of proof.
Odin is real. My proof is that you'll come to meet him face to face
at Rangarok.
In fact, we have it on good authority, Douglas Adams, that
Dirk Gently did meet Odin in Rangarok. What more proof do
we need?

Francis A. Miniter