Mexico destroys ‘Death Saint’ revered by criminals

Santa Muerte statues destroyed

NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico — Officials in Nuevo Laredo have destroyed more than 35 statues dedicated to a “Death Saint” popular with drug traffickers.

Trailer for the documentary, Saint Death (La Santa Muerte) trailer

The statues, most depicting a robe-covered skeleton resembling the Grim Reaper, lined highways and roads in and around the Mexican city on the border with Texas. One of the statues was located at the base of an international bridge linking Mexico and the U.S.

Soldiers stood guard Wednesday as city workers were seen taking down statues. The effort started before dawn on Tuesday.

A local official who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation from the drug gangs said remnants of the statues will be left at local police stations for owners to reclaim.

The Death Saint is not recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, but has become popular among organized crime figures in Mexico.

– Source: Mexico destroys ‘Death Saint’ revered by criminals, Jorge Vargas, AP via Yahoo News, Mar. 25, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Mexican police destroy 30 chapels to ‘Saint Death’ of drug gangs

Mexico City – Mexican federal authorities used bulldozers to bring down more than 30 chapels devoted to “Saint Death” – a figure that is worshipped by drug traffickers – in the northern city of Nuevo Laredo, the daily Reforma reported Wednesday.

Although the figure is venerated by people from many walks of life, the saint has been adopted by drug gangs.

In recent years, there has been a proliferation around Mexico in the construction of such chapels – varying in size from small shrines to larger buildings – from materials including brick, marble, iron and tiles.

They use Roman Catholic symbolism and ceremonies, although the formal church rejects worship of “Saint Death” as a pagan tradition and the authorities have long removed the tradition from the list of the country’s religious associations. In Mexico City, there is even a sanctuary and a so-called bishop – a man with no known ties to drug trafficking – for worship of “Saint Death.”

More than 6,300 people were killed last year in Mexico in incidents linked to organized crime and drug trafficking. The authorities have massively deployed soldiers and federal police officers to combat crime.

– Source: Mexican police destroy 30 chapels to ‘Saint Death’ of drug gangs, DPA, via, Mar. 25, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog
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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday March 26, 2009.
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