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Report: Drug Cult May Have Ordered “Witch” Slain

April 18, 1989

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) _ Mexican police say they believe the ″witch″ of a murderous cult of drug smugglers has been killed on orders from the group’s leader, but a Texas sheriff says he suspects a ruse by the two fugitives.

U.S. and Mexican authorities have sought Sara Villareal Aldrete, a 24-year- old student at a Texas college living in Mexico, since the first of 15 victims of the cult were unearthed at a ranch south of the U.S. border last week.

She was at first believed to be accompanying the reputed ″padrino,″ or godfather, of the cult, Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, 26. But the Houston Chronicle and Houston Post reported that police believe he may have ordered her death.

″She may have known too much. She may have been ordered killed - maybe by the padrino. We believe she could have been killed and buried in Mexico (City),″ Juan Benitez Ayala, commander of the Federal Judicial Police in Matamoros, told the Chronicle.

Mexican police believe Constanzo and two companions flew from McAllen to Mexico City on April 10 and then to Miami the next day, the day 12 mutilated bodies were found on a ranch 20 miles west of Matamoros, said Benitez.

Cameron County Sheriff Alex Perez, based in this border city, said he believes Ms. Aldrete is alive, even though Mexican officials reported finding her purse, her passport and $15,000 in a Mexico City apartment.

″It just might be a put-on,″ Perez said. ″If they did find a purse or found the passport, that may have been just a trick by Sara and Constanzo to (appear) she is dead. All these crooks work that way. ... To me, she is still alive.″

U.S. authorities have arrested one man and issued warrants for two others in the growing international investigation. Mexican authorities earlier arrested four people.

Investigators believe the drug smugglers committed grisly human sacrifices to protect themselves from the law.

Serafin Hernandez Rivera of Brownsville was arrested Monday in Houston on charges of marijuana importation, possession and conspiracy. He belongs to a family suspected of involvement in drug trafficking for at least 12 years, said Oran Neck, chief Customs agent in Brownsville.

Neck said warrants also were issued for Martin Quintana and Malio Fabio, two Mexican citizens believed to have participated in the sacrificial slaying and mutilation of University of Texas student Mark Kilroy, who disappeared while vacationing along the border during spring break.

The two were among six suspects who remained at large and were considered dangerous, Neck said.

Hernandez is the fifth suspect to be arrested. His father, Brigido Hernandez, owns the northern Mexico ranch where human sacrifice was practiced by the cult in the belief it would bring magical protection to the group’s illicit business, authorities said. The father is not accused.

Serafin Hernandez’s son, Serafin Hernandez Garcia Jr., and brother, Elio Hernandez Rivera, are among the four suspects in custody in Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville. Formal Mexican charges were expected to be filed against them today.

Saul Hernandez Rivera, brother of Hernandez Sr. and Elio Hernandez, was machine-gunned to death last year in Mexico in a drug-related execution, Neck said.

Authorities have identified Constanzo’s two companions as Quintana and Alvaro de Leon Valdez.

A person who answered the telephone at the Mexican police office in Matamoros early today said Benitez was not available and there wasn’t anyone else who could comment on the case. Calls to the Customs office in Brownsville late Monday weren’t returned.

The filing of Mexican charges against the four men in custody was delayed by the discovery on Sunday of two bodies on a collective farm two miles south of the Santa Elena ranch.

The two victims were identified as Moises Castillo, 52, of Houston, and Hector de la Fuente, 39, of Ejido San Francisco, west of Matamoros, both of whom had been missing since May. They did not appear to have been tortured or mutiliated like other victims, authorities said.

Jose Piedad Silva Arroyo, Mexico’s chief federal narcotics investigator for northeastern Tamaulipas state, said authorities were considering adding the two victims’ deaths to the murder, kidnapping, drug and weapons charges pending against the four suspects.

Officials said the two victims were drug dealers somehow involved with the cult, and Neck said the men were executed in a drug deal that went bad. Relatives of the two men denied they had any connection with drug trafficking.

Update hourly