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Adolfo Constanzo

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By Michael Newton

Spring Break
Matamoros, Mexico—an easy drive or stroll across the Rio Grande River from
Brownsville, Texas—has been a popular hangout for vacationing college students since
the 1930s. It is a typical border town, with all that implies: prostitution and sex shows,
abundant alcohol and drugs, rampant poverty and crime. Each spring, some 250,000
students descend on Brownsville and Matamoros en masse, cutting loose after finals,
relishing the extra kick of sowing wild oats on foreign soil. Those who came to celebrate
in March 1989 didn’t know that Matamoros had logged 60 unsolved disappearances since
New Year’s Day. If they had known, few would have cared.

Mark Kilroy

One who made the scene that spring was Mark Kilroy, a pre-med junior from the
University of Texas. Friends lost track of him in Matamoros, in the predawn hours of
March 14, 1989, and reported his disappearance to police the next day. Unlike the others
who had disappeared over the past 10 weeks, Kilroy was an Anglo with connections,
including an uncle employed by the U.S. Customs Service. His disappearance conjured
memories of the Enrique Camarena murder four years earlier, involving Mexico’s sinister
“narcotrafficantes.” The heat was immediate and intense, spurred by a $15,000 reward for
information leading to Kilroy’s safe recovery or the arrest of his abductors. American
officials kept a close eye on the case, while Matamoros police interrogated 127 known
criminals—a process frequently involving clubs and carbonated water laced with hot
sauce, sprayed into a suspect’s nostrils.
It was all in vain.

Some of those held for questioning were fugitives, and so remained in jail, but none of
them had seen Mark Kilroy. None could solve the mystery.

During the same time period Mexican authorities were busy with one of their periodic
anti-drug campaigns, erecting roadblocks at random and sweeping border districts for
unwary smugglers. The operations were designed to leave the wealthy druglords
unscathed and to target their henchmen and runners.
Serafin Hernandez Garcia

One of those people lower on the totem pole, and well known in Matamoros, was Serafin
Hernandez Garcia. The 20-year-old was the nephew, and lackey, of local drug baron Elio
Hernandez Rivera. On April 1, 1989, Serafin drove past a police checkpoint outside
Matamoros, seemingly oblivious to uniformed officers guarding the highway. They
pursued him, their quarry still seeming to ignore, until he led them to a rundown ranch
nearby. A quick search of the property revealed occult paraphernalia and traces of
marijuana. Eight days later, returning in force, police arrested Serafin Hernandez and
another drug dealer, David Serna Valdez. In custody, the pair seemed relaxed, even
defiant. Police could not hold them, the prisoners insisted; they were “protected” by a
power over and above man’s law.
Still, the two remained in jail while detectives quizzed a caretaker at the ranch. The
caretaker readily named other members of the Hernandez drug syndicate as frequent
visitors what was known as Rancho Santa Elena. Another one-time visitor was none other
than Mark Kilroy, identified from a school photograph. In custody, Serafin Hernandez
freely admitted participating in Kilroy’s abduction and murder—one of many committed
over the past year or so at Rancho Santa Elena. The slayings were human sacrifices, he
explained, executed to secure occult protection for various drug deals. “It’s our religion,”
Hernandez explained. “Our voodoo.”

Hernandez identified the leader of his cult—El Padrino, the Godfather—as Adolfo de
Jesus Constanzo, a master practitioner of the African magic called “palo mayombe.” It
was Constanzo who ordered the slayings, Hernandez explained, and El Padrino who
tortured and sodomized the victims prior to killing them and harvesting their organs for
his ritual cauldron.

Black magic artifacts siezed by

Police returned to the ranch with Hernandez in tow. He readily pointed out the cult’s
private graveyard and then when asked, used a shovel to unearth the first of 12 bodies
buried in a tidy row. All the victims were men. Some had been shot at close range and
others hacked to death with a machete. One of the bodies was Mark Kilroy, his skull split
open, his brain missing. Detectives entering a nearby shed found the cult’s cast-iron kettle
called a nganga brimming with blood, animal remains and 28 sticks—the “palos” of palo
mayombe—which Constanzo’s disciples said they used to communicate with spirits in the
afterlife. Floating in the pot with spiders, scorpions and other items that could scarcely be
identified, they found Mark Kilroy’s brain.

Police unearthing bodies at Rancho

Santa Elena (AP)

Police knew they were looking for a madman now—a wealthy one at that, surrounded by
disciples who were cunning and well armed. The only thing they didn’t know about
Adolfo Constanzo, was where in the world they could find him.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Born in Miami on November 1, 1962, Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo was the son of a 15-
year-old Cuban immigrant, the first of her eventual three children by three different
fathers. When he was six months old, Delia Aurora Gonzalez del Valle had her son blessed
by a Haitian priest of “palo mayombe,” accepting the father’s judgment that her son was
“a chosen one” and “destined for great power.” Adolfo was still an infant when his mother
moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and while he was reputedly baptized a Catholic, serving
briefly as an altar boy, the family’s true faith remained a dark secret. Gonzalez immersed
herself in palo mayombe and taught her son likewise, trusting his magic education to
practitioners in San Juan and nearby Haiti. In 1972 the family returned to Miami for good,
Adolfo starting his full-time apprenticeship with a Haitian priest in Little Havana.

Constanzo's home in Miami

His mother, for her part, was a habitual criminal, arrested 30 times on various charges
ranging from trespassing to shoplifting, convicted of check fraud, grand theft and child
neglect. But the charges never seemed to stick, and she always escaped with probation,
crediting the law’s failure to her mystical religion. She left a string of rented houses in
Miami vandalized, bloodstained and littered with the remains of sacrificial animals.
Neighbors whispered that Delia was a witch, and those who angered her were likely to
find headless goats or chickens on their doorsteps.
Delia Gonzalez Del
Valle mugshot
Constanzo followed in his mother’s footsteps, cruising Miami gay bars in his teens,
indulging in petty crime. A poor student of anything but black magic, he graduated near
the bottom of his high school class and dropped out of junior college after one
embarrassing semester.
His interests lay elsewhere, learning the secrets of witchcraft from his mentor. Together
they robbed graves to stock the priest’s caldron and spilled blood over voodoo dolls to
curse their enemies. palo mayombe is an amoral religion, drawing no line between “black”
and “white” magic, leaving each practitioner to choose his own path without prejudice.
Drug dealers frequently trusted its tenets to protect their outlaw enterprise, but
Constanzo’s godfather had stern words of advice for his protégé. “Let the nonbelievers kill
themselves with drugs,” he counseled. “We will profit from their foolishness.”

Adolfo de Jesus
Constanzo as young
adult (Timepix)
By 1976, his mother later claimed, Constanzo had begun to display psychic powers,
predicting future events with amazing accuracy. Months before the 1981 shooting of
President Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley, Constanzo reportedly predicted the event and
proclaimed that Reagan would survive his wounds. Constanzo didn’t have as much luck
foretelling his own future, which included two arrests for shoplifting in 1981, one case
involving the theft of a chainsaw.
By early 1983, Constanzo had chosen his patron saint, pledging himself to Kadiempembe,
his religion’s version of Satan. With his padrino’s blessing, he devoted himself to the
worship of evil for profit. His final initiation included ritual scarring, his mentor wielding
the knife to carve mystic symbols into Constanzo’s flesh. “My soul is dead,” he
proclaimed, at the climax of that ceremony. “I have no god.”
The apprentice was ready to lead.

Blood Rites

A modeling assignment took Constanzo to Mexico City in 1983, and he spent his free time
telling fortunes with tarot cards in the city’s infamous Zona Rosa, a popular hangout for
prostitutes. Before returning to Miami, Constanzo recruited his first Mexican disciples,
including Martin Quintana Rodriguez, homosexual “psychic” Jorge Montes, and Omar Orea
Ochoa, who had been obsessed with the occult from the age of 15. In short order, Constanzo
seduced both Quintana and Orea, claiming one as his “man” and the other as his “woman,”
depending on Adolfo’s romantic whim of the moment.

Martin Quintana Rodriguez & Omar

Orea Ochoa
Martin Quintana Rodriguez & Omar
Orea Ochoa
In mid-1984 Constanzo moved to Mexico City full-time, seeking what his mother referred
to as “new horizons.” He shared quarters with Quintana and Orea, in a strange ménage à
trois, collecting other followers as his “magic” reputation spread throughout the city. It was
said that Constanzo could read the future, and he also offered limpias—ritual
“cleansings”—for those who felt enemies had cursed them. Of course, it all cost money, and
Constanzo’s journals, recovered after his death, document 31 regular customers, some
paying up to $4,500 for a single ceremony. Constanzo established a menu for sacrificial
beasts, with roosters going for $6 a head, goats for $30, boa constrictors for $450, adult
zebras for $1,100, and African lion cubs listed at $3,100 each.

True to the teachings of his Florida mentor, Constanzo charmed wealthy drug dealers,
helping them schedule shipments and meetings on the basis of his predictions. For a price,
he also offered magic that would make gangsters and their bodyguards invisible to police,
bulletproof against their enemies. It was all nonsense, but smugglers drawn from Mexican
peasant stock and a background of brujeria (witchcraft) were strongly inclined to believe.
According to Constanzo’s ledgers, one dealer in Mexico City paid him $40,000 for magical
services over three years’ time.

At those rates, the customers demanded a show, and Constanzo recognized the folly of
disappointing men who carried Uzis in their armor-plated limousines. Constanzo was well
established by mid-1985, when he and three of his disciples raided a Mexico City graveyard
for human bones to start his own bloody caldron. The rituals and air of mystery surrounding
Constanzo were powerful enough to lure a cross-section of Mexican society, with his clique
of followers including a physician, a real estate speculator, fashion models, and several
transvestite nightclub performers.

Adolfo Constanzo aka El

Padrino in 1986
Perhaps the most peculiar aspect of Constanzo’s new career was the appeal he seemed to
have for high-ranking law enforcement officers. At least four members of the Federal
Judicial Police joined Constanzo’s cult in Mexico City: one of them, Salvador Garcia
Alarcon, was a commander in charge of narcotics investigations; another, Florentino
Ventura Gutierrez, retired from the federales to head the Mexican branch of Interpol. In a
country where bribery permeates all levels of law enforcement and federal agents
sometimes serve as triggermen for drug lords, corruption is not unusual, but the devotion of
Constanzo’s disciples seemed to run deeper than simple greed. In or out of uniform, they
worshiped Constanzo as a minor god, their living conduit to the spirit world and ambassador
to Hell itself.
In 1986, Ventura introduced Constanzo to the drug dealing Calzada family, then one of
Mexico’s dominant narcotics cartels. Constanzo won the hard-nosed dealers over with his
charm and mumbo-jumbo, profiting immensely from his contacts with the gang. By early
1987 he was able to pay $60,000 cash for a condominium in Mexico City and buy himself a
fleet of luxury cars that included an $80,000 Mercedes Benz. When not working magic for
the Calzadas or other clients, Constanzo staged scams of his own, once posing as a DEA
agent to rip off a Guadalajara cocaine dealer and then selling the stash through his police
contacts for a cool $100,000.

At some point in his odyssey from juvenile psychic to high-society wizard, Constanzo
began to feed his nganga, or caldron, with the offerings of human sacrifice. No final tally for
his victims is available, but 23 ritual murders are well-documented and Mexican authorities
point to a rash of unsolved mutilation-slayings around Mexico City during the same period,
suggesting that Constanzo’s known victims may be only the tip of a malignant iceberg. In
any case, his willingness to torture and kill total strangers—or even close friends—duly
impressed the ruthless drug dealers who remained his foremost clients.

In the course of a year’s association, Constanzo came to believe that his magical powers
alone were responsible for the Calzada family’s continued success and survival. In April
1987 he demanded a full partnership in the syndicate and was curtly refused. On the surface,
Constanzo seemed to take the rejection in stride, but his devious mind was plotting revenge.

On April 30, 1987 Guillermo Calzada Sanchez and six members of his household vanished
under mysterious circumstances. They were reported missing on May 1 and police noted
melted candles and other evidence of a strange religious ceremony at Calzada’s office. Six
more days went by before officers began fishing mutilated remains from the Zumpango
River. Seven corpses were recovered in the course of a week, all bearing signs of sadistic
torture: fingers, toes and ears removed; hearts and genitals excised; part of the spine ripped
from one body; two other corpses missing their brains.

The vanished parts, as it turned out, had gone to feed Constanzo’s nganga, building up his
strength for greater conquests yet to come. By July 1987 he already had his next targets in

'La Madrina'

Sara Maria Aldrete Villareal was born on September 6, 1964, the daughter of a Matamoros
electrician. She crossed the border to attend Porter High School in Brownsville, where
teachers remember her as a model student and a good kid. She maintained her star-pupil
status in secretarial school, instructors urging her to attend a real college, but romance
intervened. On Halloween Day in 1983 Aldrete married Brownsville resident Miguel
Zacharias, 11 years her senior. The relationship quickly soured and five months later they
were separated, moving inexorably toward divorce.

Late in 1985 Aldrete applied for and received resident alien status in the United States. Her
next step was enrollment at Texas Southmost College, a two-year school in Brownsville.
Admitted on a “work-study” program that deferred part of her tuition, Sara began classes in
January 1986 as a physical education major, holding down two part-time jobs as an
aerobics teacher and assistant secretary in the school’s athletic department
By the end of her first semester Aldrete stood out physically and academically. Standing at
6-foot-1, she was unusually tall for a Mexican woman and her grades were excellent. She
was one of 33 students chosen from TSC’s 6,500-member student body for listing in the
school’s Who’s Who directory for 1987-88. Aside from grades that placed her on the honor
roll, Aldrete also organized and led a Booster Club for TSC’s soccer team, earning the
school’s Outstanding Physical Education Award in her spare time.

Sara Maria Aldrete

With the breakup of her marriage, Aldrete had moved back home with her parents in
Matamoros, constructing a special outside stairway to her second-floor room in the interest
of privacy. She was home most weekends and during school vacations, looking forward to
completion of her studies and the transfer to a four-year school that would bring her a P.E.
teaching certificate. Attractive and popular with men, in 1987 she was dating Gilberto Sosa,
a drug dealer associated with the powerful Hernandez family.
Aldrete was driving through Matamoros on July 30, 1987 when a shiny new Mercedes cut
her off in traffic, narrowly avoiding a collision. The driver was apologetic, suave and
handsome. He introduced himself as Adolfo Constanzo, a Cuban-American living in
Mexico City. There was an instant chemistry between them, but Constanzo made no sexual
overtures. He noted with pleasure that Aldrete’s birthday was the same as his mother’s.

In fact, the meeting was no accident. Constanzo had been watching Gilberto Sosa,
weighing his connections. The meeting with Sara Aldrete was carefully stage-managed, as
was their burgeoning friendship and her gradual introduction into the occult. Two weeks
after their first encounter, Constanzo met Aldrete and Sosa in Brownsville, pointedly
refusing to shake Sosa’s hand. Days later, an anonymous caller told Sosa that Aldrete was
seeing another man. Jealous, he refused to accept her denials and broke off the relationship.
She turned to Constanzo for solace, surprised when he told her he had seen the break-up
coming in his tarot cards.

Constanzo finally took Aldrete to bed, but their sexual union was short-lived. He made no
secret of his preference for men, and Aldrete grudgingly accepted it, already hooked on the
religious aspect of their relationship. By summer’s end, Aldrete’s TSC classmates found her
dramatically changed, an overnight expert on witchcraft and magic, eager to debate the
relative powers of darkness and light. In private, Constanzo called her La Madrina, the
“godmother” of his growing cult. He probed her links to the Hernandez clan, predicting
that leader Elio would soon approach her for advice about a problem. When Elio did so, in
November 1987, Sara introduced the dealer to El Padrino.

Season of the Witch

As it happened, the Hernandez family was ripe for a takeover, torn by internal dissension and
threatened by outside competitors. Using every “magic” trick at his disposal, Constanzo
persuaded Elio and the rest that palo mayombe could solve all their problems. Enemies could
be eliminated in the course of sacrificial rituals; those rituals, in turn, would keep the family
and its employees safe from harm. If they were faithful to Constanzo, his disciples would
become invisible to the authorities and bulletproof in combat. In return, all he asked was 50
percent of the profits and effective control of the family.

Shed Constanzo used for black

Constanzo’s rituals became more elaborate and sadistic after he moved his cult headquarters to
Rancho Santa Elena, 20 miles outside Matamoros. There, on May 28, 1988, Constanzo shot
drug dealer Hector de la Fuente and a farmer named Moises Castillo, but the sacrifices didn’t
satisfy him. Back in Mexico City, on July 16, he supervised the torture and dismemberment of
Raul Paz Esquivel, a transvestite and former lover of cult member Jorge Montes. The gruesome
remains were dumped on a public street, found by children who ran shrieking to summon

Mutilation and pain were essential to palo mayombe. Blood and viscera fed the nganga,
manipulated with sticks as Constanzo tuned in the spirit world. The demons he served were
more likely to smile on a sacrifice that died in agony. “They must die screaming,” El Padrino
told his flock. As for the point in nearly every sacrifice where Constanzo sodomized his
victims, that was simply a fringe benefit of playing god.

On August 10, 1988, in reprisal for an $800,000 drug rip-off, rival narcotics dealers kidnapped
Ovidio Hernandez and his 2 -year-old sons. Constanzo’s ghoul squad kidnapped a stranger two
days later and tortured him to death at Rancho Santa Elena, chanting prayers for the safe
release of Hernandez and son. When the hostages were released on August 13, without a peso’s
ransom changing hands, Constanzo claimed full credit for the triumph. His star was rising, and
Constanzo paid little attention to the suicide of his disciple Florentino Ventura in Mexico City
on September 17. (Ventura also killed his wife and a friend with the same burst of gunfire.)

Adolfo de Jesus
In November 1988, after 35-year-old ex-cop and cult member Jorge Valente de Fierro Gomez
violated El Padrino’s ban on using drugs, Constanzo made him the group’s next offering to
Kadiempembe, a bloody object lesson in obedience. Competing smuggler Ezequiel Rodriguez
Luna was tortured to death at the ranch on Valentine’s Day 1989; two other dealers, Ruben
Vela Garza and Ernesto Rivas Diaz were added to the grisly list when they wandered into the
ceremony uninvited. Nine days later, the cult kidnapped another stranger, never identified, but
he put up such a fight that Constanzo ordered Elio Hernandez to shoot him without the
customary rituals. On February 25 the prowling cultists accidentally kidnapped Jose Garcia,
Elio’s 14-year-old cousin, slaying him before they recognized the error.
By that time Constanzo was sitting on 800 kilos of marijuana stolen from another gang, but felt
he needed one more sacrifice to guarantee safe shipment across the Rio Grande. Another ritual
was staged on March 13, 1989, but the victim’s suffering was insufficient for Constanzo’s
taste. “Bring me someone I can use,” he told his minions. “Someone who will scream.”
The next morning, they brought him Mark Kilroy.
Witch Hunt

Constanzo’s psychic powers must have failed him in March 1989, for he was stunned by the
reaction to Mark Kilroy’s disappearance. Not even the Calzada family slaughter had produced
such an outcry, most observers concluding that drug dealers and their lackeys were beyond
protection of the law, a violent death their just reward. Some of Constanzo’s victims had never
been reported missing; three of them, later unearthed with the rest at Rancho Santa Elena, have
never been identified.

But Mark Kilroy was different. He came from an affluent family with political connections. More
to the point, he was an Anglo tourist whose fate threatened to become an international incident.
Local police wanted to solve the case quickly, before their tarnished reputation suffered any
further damage.

Constanzo, for his part, still had 800 kilos of marijuana to move across the border. To safeguard
the shipment, he staged one final sacrifice at the ranch, choosing Sara Aldrete’s old lover as the
guest of honor. Gilberto Sosa died screaming on March 28, 1989, and the dope was safely
transported on April 8, despite Serafin Hernandez leading police to the ranch one week earlier.
Constanzo’s mules collected $300,000 for the load, while El Padrino congratulated himself on his
magical powers.

Elio Hernandez Rivera,

arrest at ranch
The protective shield of magic was lifted the next day. Four members of the Hernandez family
were arrested on April 9, before they could give Constanzo the cash from his last big deal. The
ranch began surrendering its buried secrets on April 11, the butchered remains of 15 victims
unearthed over the next six days. (Besides the first 12 buried in the cemetery, three more were
found in a nearby orchard.) Constanzo went on the lam, traveling with Sara Aldrete, male lovers
Martin Quintana and Omar Orea, and a Hernandez family hit man named Alvaro de Leon Valdez
—”El Duby” to his friends. Miami beckoned, but informers told the DEA Constanzo might run
home to mother, and the heat in Florida persuaded him to remain in Mexico City, shuttling from
the home of one disciple to another.
Mexican wanted poster of
Constanzo & cult member
The discoveries at Matamoros were tailor-made for tabloid television circa 1989. Geraldo Rivera
aired a special prime-time segment on the case, while TV journalists flew in from the United
States, Europe, and even Japan. Constanzo was “sighted” as far north as Chicago, where rumors
placed him in league with the Windy City Mafia. Sara Aldrete was “seen” lurking around schools
throughout the Rio Grande Valley, word-of-mouth reports claiming she had threatened to kidnap
and murder 10 Anglo children for each of her disciples jailed in Mexico. An alternative church at
Pharr, Texas, was burned by nightriders after tales spread that its congregants were witches in
thrall to Constanzo.

Still lawmen scoured the border in vain for El Padrino and his entourage, barely mollified by the
April 17 arrest of gang patriarch Serafin Hernandez Rivera in Houston. Searching the house
where he had been hiding, they seized weapons and cash, but found no occult paraphernalia.
Constanzo and his closest aides, meanwhile, had simply disappeared.

Like magic.

'They'll Never Take Me'

Constanzo read betrayal in his tarot cards on April 18, 1989. He knew informers must have sold
out Serafin Sr., and now he eyed his friends more warily. He kept an Uzi close at hand and rarely
slept for more than a few minutes at a time. Increasingly, he threatened those around him with a
power exceeding that of the police. “They cannot kill you,” he insisted, “but I can.”

On April 22, nocturnal arsonists struck at Rancho Santa Elena, burning Constanzo’s bloodstained
ritual shed to the ground. The next morning he flew into a rage, watching on television as police
conducted a full-dress exorcism at the ranch, sprinkling holy water over the graves and
smoldering ashes. Constanzo stormed about the small apartment where he slept with Aldrete and
the others, smashing lamps and overturning furniture, a man possessed.

Black magic shed burned by police

On April 24 police arrested cultist Jorge Montes, raiding his home three blocks from the site
where the Calzada family was slaughtered in 1986. Like the others arrested before him, Montes
spilled everything he knew about the cult, naming Constanzo as the mastermind and chief
executioner in a string of grisly homicides.
Three days later, Constanzo and his four remaining cohorts settled into their last hideout, an
apartment house on Rio Sena in Mexico City. Aldrete, fearing for her life, penned a note on May
2 and tossed it from a bedroom window to the street below. It read:

Please call the judicial police and tell them that in this building are those that they are seeking.
Tell them that a woman is being held hostage. I beg for this, because what I want most is to talk—
or they’re going to kill the girl.

A passerby found the note moments later, read it, and kept it to himself, believing it was
someone’s lame attempt at humor. Upstairs, in the crowded flat, Constanzo began laying plans to
flee Mexico with his hard-core disciples, perhaps starting fresh somewhere else. “They’ll never
take me,” he assured his followers.

Those plans unraveled on May 6, 1989, when police arrived on Rio Sena, going door-to-door and
asking questions. As luck would have it, they were searching for a missing child—a completely
unrelated case—but when Constanzo glimpsed them from a window he panicked, opening fire
with his submachine gun. Within moments, 180 policemen surrounded the apartment house
returning fire in a fierce exchange that lasted some 45 minutes. Miraculously, the only person
wounded was an officer struck by Constanzo’s first shots.

When Constanzo realized that escape was impossible, he handed his weapon to El Duby and
issued new orders. As the hit man later told police, “He told me to kill him and Martin. I told him
I couldn’t do it, but he hit me in the face and threatened that everything would go bad for me in
hell. Then he hugged Martin, and I just stood in front of them and shot them with a machine gun.”

Constanzo & Quintana dead in

Constanzo and Quintana were dead when police stormed the apartment, slumped together in a
closet, Constanzo dressed in shorts as if for a day at the beach. The three survivors—El Duby,
Orea and Sara Aldrete—were promptly arrested and rushed off to jail. In custody, El Duby
admitted shooting Constanzo, but he cheerfully informed police, “The godfather will not be dead
for long.”

The Legacy

Mexican authorities were less concerned with Constanzo’s impending resurrection than with
making charges stick against the surviving cultists. El Duby’s case was open-and-shut, his
confession recorded on two murder counts, but Sara Aldrete first posed as a victim, betraying
herself when she protested too much, revealing intimate knowledge of the cult’s bloody rituals.

In the wake of the Mexico City shootout, 14 cult members were indicted on various charges,
including multiple murder, weapons and narcotics violations, conspiracy and obstruction of
justice. In August 1990, El Duby was convicted of killing Constanzo and Quintana, drawing a 35-
year prison term. Cultists Juan Fragosa and Jorge Montes were both convicted of Raul Esquivel’s
murder and sentenced to 35 years each; Omar Orea, convicted in the same case, died of AIDS
before he could be sentenced. Sara Aldrete was acquitted of Constanzo’s slaying in 1990 but was
sentenced to a six-year term on conviction of criminal association. La Madrina insisted that she
never practiced any religion but “Christian Santeria”; televised reports of the murders at Rancho
Santa Elena, she said, took her completely by surprise. Jurors disagreed, and in 1994 , when
Aldrete and four male accomplices were convicted of multiple slayings at the ranch. Aldrete was
sentenced to 62 years, while her cohorts—including Elio Hernandez and Serafin Jr.—drew prison
terms of 67 years. American authorities stand ready to prosecute Aldrete, El Duby and the
Hernandez clan for Mark Kilroy’s murder, should they ever be released from custody.

Cult members arrested after

But is their evil vanquished, even now?

A grisly list of cult-related crimes remains unsolved in Mexico. From prison, Sara Aldrete told
reporters, “I don’t think the religion will end with us, because it has a lot of people in it. They
have found a temple in Monterrey that isn’t even related to us. It will continue.” Between 1987
and 1989, police in Mexico City recorded 74 unsolved ritual murders, 14 of them involving infant
victims. Constanzo’s cult is suspected in at least 16 of those cases, all involving children or
teenagers, but authorities lack sufficient evidence to press charges.

Referring to those cases, prosecutor Guillermo Ibarra told reporters, “We would like to say, yes,
Constanzo did them all, and poof, all those cases are solved. And the fact is, we believe he was
responsible for some of them, though we’ll never prove it now. But he didn’t commit all of those
murders. Which means someone else did. Someone who is still out there.”

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