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Even Tough Border Town Is Startled By Satanism With PM-Satanic Slayings, Bjt

April 13, 1989

MATAMOROS, Mexico (AP) _ Smugglers along the U.S.-Mexico border have long had a macho image and been praised in song, but drug rings involved in satanic killings are not part of the lore.

″Our smugglers do not pray to the devil,″ said Alma Rosa Garza, a local secretary. She noted that the alleged leader of a voodoo cult of drug smugglers that is blamed for at least 12 ritual slayings was Cuban.

Smuggling along the border involves drugs and illegal immigrants going north; luxury and consumer goods and even industrial and farm machinery comes the other way.

And thousands of Americans come to Matamoros and nearby Reynosa every night to drink, party or visit whorehouses. Nearly 22,000 visitors, many of them college students, come across daily during college spring break.

Among those visitors was Mark Kilroy, a pre-med student from the University of Texas who disappeared during a nighttime trip with friends to Matamoros.

Kilroy was among those killed by smugglers who believed satanic ritual would protect them from harm, authorities say.

Mexican police say five people have been arrested in the case, and authorities on both sides of the border were seeking the cult ″godfather,″ identified as Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, a Cuban national in his late 40s.

″It was the strangest case involving drugs that I have seen in my years as a newsman,″ said Edgardo Montiel, editorial director of the Matamoros newspaper El Bravo.

Violence is common in the border, he said, but not this kind of violence.

″We are very concerned and we will tell the tourists that 99.9 percent of the people here are good and that it only takes one or two to give the others a bad name,″ Ignacio Garcia, a shift supervisor at Pancho Villa’s restaurant, said Wednesday.

Authorities were quick to say that the mass killing should not alarm potential tourists.

″We do not believe there is any danger to people traveling to Matamoros,″ said Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox.

But this city on the Rio Grande near the southern tip of Texas is widely known as a place where drug trafficking money buys political power and legitimate businesses.

Songs celebrate smugglers’ courage in gunbattles with the law on both sides of the border.

The smugglers form a social group ranging from the gun-toting river rat who carryies sacks of marijuana and packets of cocaine to the big-time operator who runs tons of drugs and doubles as a school benefactor and charitable figure.

In almost every border town, from Matamoros to Tijuana on the California border almost 2,000 miles to the west, their true calling seems known to all.

″You can point them out,″ Matamoros Mayor Fernando Montemayor said in an interview, ″but you can’t prove anything. It is like the Mafia in the United States.″

The case ″is an alarm. ... Crazies like these are the product of the drug traffic,″ said the mayor, who has closed down expensive bars and restaurants where drugs were sold and also shut down the red light district.

Federal Prosecutor Jose Silva said some killings in the cult case appeared to be more revenge murder than cult sacrifice. At least two victims were former local police who had had some connection with the Matamoros drug trade, according to federal police.

″To me this is all part of the U.S. influence of total freedom and excess. We Mexicans are more traditionalist, more conservative. Rituals and drugs are a thing of the United States,″ said Rosa Garza.

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