Mexican Authorities Search Second Ranch For Victims With AM-Ritual Slayings-Clues, Bjt
MATAMOROS, Mexico (AP) _ Mexican authorities searched a second remote ranch on Saturday for more victims of a drug-smuggling cult accused of killing at least 13 people in grisly sacrificial ceremonies.
Graves were prepared for the Saturday afternoon burials of four of the five mutilated corpses that remain unidentified.
Serafin Hernandez Garcia, one of four men facing charges in the case, accompanied investigators to a ranch 30 miles south of this border city, said an agent of the Federal Judicial Police who asked not to be identified.
The ranch, Rancho Los Leones, is owned by the same family that owns the Rancho Santa Elena two miles west of Matamoros where 13 mutilated bodies and occult items were found last week, the agent said.
″They went out to see if there are other bodies or another altar,″ she said. ″They (the suspects) are assuring us that there are no other bodies, but as police we have to look around that ranch.″
Investigators say the men in custody have confessed to at least 14 slayings, including that of 21-year-old University of Texas student Mark Kilroy, whose funeral was held Saturday in Santa Fe, Texas.
Kilroy and seven other victims have been identified, with the eighth named victim listed as Ezequiel Rodriguez Luna, 27, of Matamoros. Police said Rodriguez Luna and two men he was found buried with, Ruben Vela Garza, 30, of Matamoros, and Ernesto Rivas Diaz, 23, of Monterrey, Mexico, were all drug traffickers.
The three were allegedly machine-gunned by Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, the 26-year-old ″Godfather″ of the cult, said Jose Piedad Silva Arroyo, chief of Mexican federal narcotics investigations for northeastern Tamaulipas state.
The three bodies were grotesquely mutilated, officials and relatives said, including removal of brains, hearts, genitals, eyes and ears. The victims were abducted by men posing as police Feb. 14 from Rancho Caracol about 50 miles southeast of Matamoros, Silva Arroyo said.
Members of the Constanzo organization ″told (the three victims) they did not like the quality of the marijuana they had, but in reality they wanted to steal the 300 kilograms of marijuana.″
Reymunda Nunez, godmother of Vela Garza, said her godson was last seen at the Rancho Caracol on Feb. 14, when armed men forced him into a vehicle with Florida license plates.
″He was a nice boy,″ Mrs. Nunez said at El Rosario funeral home, where Vela Garza’s body was held. ″He never had bad friends.″
Police in Mexico City, meanwhile, raided Constanzo’s apartment in the capital and found an altar similar to one found at the Matamoros apartment of Sara Maria Aldrete, the alleged ″Godmother″ of the group, who remained at large with Constanzo.
Authorities decided to bury all but one of the cult’s unidentified victims, because the decomposing bodies posed a health threat, said Joel Maldonado Nunez, a Tamaulipas State Judicial Police official.
Maldonado Nunez said people from distant parts of Mexico as well as the United States continued to come to Matamoros to view the bodies of the unidentified cult victims, to learn if their missing loved ones are there.
″Photos were taken of all the bodies,″ he said. ″They came to see if it is their child.″
Gloria Slovak of Brownsville, who said her brother has been missing since going to Matamoros April 20, 1988, looked at the pictures with her mother, Elvira Perez, rather than view the decomposing corpses at the funeral home.
″We couldn’t go in there and see the bodies,″ Mrs. Slovak said. ″I didn’t want her (the mother) to have to do that.″