Finding of Two More Bodies Delays Charges in Ritual Slayings
MATAMOROS, Mexico (AP) _ The discovery of two bodies near a ranch where 13 mutilated corpses were found last week delayed the filing of Mexican charges Monday against members of a human-sacrificing cult, officials said.
The cult also is suspected of killing the newly discovered victims.
Two bodies of suspected drug traffickers missing since May were unearthed Sunday on a collective farm two miles south of the Rancho Santa Elena, where 13 corpses were found last week.
The two victims, Moises Castillo, 52, of Houston and Hector de la Fuente, 39, who lived on a small communal farm west of Matamoros, did not appear tortured or mutilated like the others, officials said.
Castillo’s father, Hidalgo Castillo, 76, of Brownsville, said he found $70, a pair of eyeglasses and a passport in his son’s pocket when he helped police dig up the bodies.
Formal Mexican federal charges were to have been filed Monday against four men in custody here, but the new deaths complicated the case, said Jose Piedad Silva Arroyo, Mexico’s chief federal narcotics investigator for northeastern Tamaulipas state.
Silva said authorities were considering adding the latest victims’ deaths to the murder, kidnapping, drug and weapons charges already pending against the four suspects.
″It’s a big case, not simple, and there are a lot of details to attend to before we take them before the court,″ Silva said.
Although relatives disputed the description, officials said the two newly found victims were drug traffickers somehow involved with the cult allegedly led by Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, 26, and Sara Maria Aldrete, 24.
Constanzo, a Cuban-American who lived for a time in Miami, and Aldrete, a Texas college student who authorities said lived a double life as the ″witch″ of the ritualistic cult, were at large Monday.
The elder Castillo said he first suspected his son might be buried at the communal farm after children told him they saw something suspicious there.
″They said, ’Look over there. There’s a hand sticking out of the ground,‴ Castillo said.
But Castillo said he avoided digging it up until after the 13 bodies were discovered last week at Rancho Santa Elena, about a mile south of the border and 20 miles west of Matamoros. Castillo said he feared he might be arrested if he told anyone about the body.
Castillo said he did not know what his son was doing at the farm where his body was found with the hands bound with wire. In Houston, he said, Moises worked as a mechanic and at other various jobs. He disputed authorities’ description of his son as a drug trafficker.
Monica de Leon, de la Fuente’s wife, said she learned of her husband’s death on television Sunday night. He was a farm worker, and not involved with drugs, she said.
Martin Elias Salazar, a federal judicial police group chief who supervised Sunday’s exhumations, said the two men had been suspected of drug trafficking.
Across the Rio Grande in Brownsville, Cameron County Sheriff Alex Perez described the two newly discovered deaths as drug-related, ″revenge-type killings.″
At least three of the 13 victims found earlier have also been said to be tied to the group by the drug business. But one of the 13 was a U.S. college student who disappeared while vacationing at the border during spring break.
The suspects in custody have told investigators that cult members were involved in occult practices inspired by palo mayombe, a form of spiritism that draws on African and Caribbean influences.
The suspects also said that they were encouraged by Aldrete to watch the movie ″The Believers,″ which deals with people practicing palo mayombe.
Sheriff’s Lt. George Gavito said officials throughout the U.S. and Mexico continued focusing Monday on finding Constanzo and Ms. Aldrete. The pair, charged with aggravated kidnapping by Cameron County authorities, are believed to have directed the human sacrifices, mutilations and boiling of brains and other organs in rituals to bring occult protection for their drug-smuggling ring.
Numerous people have called to report sightings of the pair, Gavito said.