BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) _ The story of a cult of drug smugglers blamed for 15 slayings in northern Mexico has been put to music in a ballad that's being played by Spanish- language radio stations.

''Tragedy in Matamoros'' is a traditional ''corrido'' played in waltz time with guitars and accordion.

Corridos for years in Mexico have been used to tell about important historical events or social problems. Their themes often relate to the plight, problems and concerns of immigrants. They also were used to spread news and deliver messages.

Corridos are popular along U.S.-Mexico border and among the Chicano culture.

''Tragedy in Matamoros,'' by the group Suspiros de Salamanca, mentions by name only Sara Aldrete, who authorities said was the cult's ''godmother'' and is in custody in Mexico City.

The song also refers to ''El Padrino,'' the Godfather, Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo.

Constanzo, the cult's charismatic leader, is believed to have directed the killings at Santa Elena Ranch near Matamoros, as well as slayings in Mexico City. On May 6, Constanzo reportedly ordered one of his followers to kill him and another man as police were closing in on their Mexico City hideout.

The ''young American'' in the lyrics is Mark Kilroy, a University of Texas student abducted while in Matamoros during a spring break outing.

Kilroy's body was one of 15 unearthed at or near the ranch. Some of the victims were sacrificed in occult rituals designed to bring magical protection for the drug-smuggling, suspects and police have said.

Andres Cantu, production director at KBOR-AM in Brownsville, across the Rio Grande from Matamoros, said it was inevitable that the story would become a corrido.

''This is the first one,'' Cantu said. ''There are going to be other versions coming out.''

Some listeners call and request the song, he said.

At KGBT-AM in Harlingen, program director Rogelio Botello said ''Tragedy in Matamoros'' is the most popular corrido this week.

''It is getting some play here in Houston, also in Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio,'' said Albino Garcia, with sales promotion at Ramex Records, the Houston-based company distributing the recording to stations.

''We're taking quite a few orders now,'' Garcia said.

Here is a translation of the lyrics:

''There the devil did fail them,

Satanic murderers.

They say Sarita Aldrete

And that Cuban 'El Padrino'

Are the main ones responsible

For everything that has happened.

In Brownsville and Matamoros

They all started trembling

Because that satanic gang,

They are not afraid to kill.

That's how they prayed to the devil,

In order to triumph in all that they do.

The parents were very worried

About their beloved son.

That young American,

Well, he had been lost

On the 14th of March

While he was out with some friends.

They say that some 'federales'

They caught a snitch.

'We will protect you.

Give us some good information.

The Santa Elena Ranch,

It looks like a cemetery there.

Now I say good goodbye from here,

From Rancho Santa Elena.

Here they found the gringo

Dead with another dozen.

For that satanic gang

Black will be their sentence.''