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Doug  Wyllie

Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

Richard Valdemar

Richard Valdemar

Sgt. Richard Valdemar retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after spending most of his 33 years on the job combating gangs.

Patron Saints of the Mexican Drug Underworld (Part 2 of 2)

Both Mexican and Mexican-American criminals use the iconography and heroes of the church and Mexican culture as symbols of power and loyalty.

June 02, 2010  |  by Richard Valdemar - Also by this author

Photo of 1997 infant murder scene in Santa Ana, Calif. The crime scene was a converted garage in which the "high priest" conducted occult rituals to a mixture of Afro-Caribbean and Mexican "saints" and deities. The picture depicts one of the main altars with the Mexican drug cartel saint "Santa Muerte" (Holy Angel of Death).

A Prayer to Jesus Malverde

Today before your cross prostrate,

Oh, Malverde my Lord,

I beg your mercy to relieve my pain.

You who dwell in glory,

And you who are so close to God,

Listen to the suffering of this humble fisherman.

Oh, miraculous Malverde,

Oh, Malverde my Lord,

Concede this favor and fill my sprit with joy.

Give me health Lord,

Give me rest,

Give me wellbeing,

And so let it be.

In the second part of this blog, we continue our look at how the Mexican underworld has appropriated and perverted the iconography of Mexican culture and the Catholic faith.

Unorthodox Folk Saints

San Juan Soldado (Saint John the Soldier) was a real person, Juan Castillo Morales, a soldier in the Mexican Army. In 1938, he was convicted for the rape and murder of a young girl in Tijuana. Believers claim that he was an innocent man.

In a strange custom called "La Le Fuga" (the Law of Flight), Juan Soldado was sentenced to face a military firing squad, but he was allowed to run. If he could reach the distance of a thousand meters or so without being killed, he was a free man. Juan was shot running through a cemetery toward the U.S. border.

Later, blood mysteriously began to appear in the spot where Juan was shot. This was witnessed by numerous people. He is now invoked as the unofficial "saint" of illegal aliens, fugitives, and for people seeking safe passage.

"Brother" San Simon was a drunkard and a gambler from Guatemala. He is depicted as a mustached man dressed in a black suit and hat sitting in a chair. Sometimes he holds a staff or cane, smokes a cigar and has coins in his hand. In Guatemala, he is slightly more colorfully dressed and is often crudely carved from wood. He represents a man of the 20th century enjoying worldly things. He is the patron of drunkards and gamblers.

The image of Jesus Malverde comes from the city of Culican Sinaloa, Mexico. There are two different folk stories explaining Jesus Malverde. The first version of the tale is that he was a bandit who was caught by the Federales (Mexican Federal Police). Without a trial he was hung from a tree, cursed, and left to be eaten by vultures.

A poor peon rancher happened to pass the rotting corpse he recognized as Juan Malverde. The poor rancher was looking for his only cow which had wandered away. He invoked the intervention of the bandit promising to give him a proper burial if he would help him recover his prized possession. The cow returned and the poor rancher buried Malverde as he promised, building a small shrine over his grave.

Another folk tale is that bounty hunters shot the "Robin Hood" like bandit. Jesus had been nicknamed Malverde because he had employed the tactic of dressing in green camouflage clothing and hiding in the brush to surprise his victims. Mal in Spanish can be translated bad and verde means green. Though mortally wounded he escaped the bounty hunters and returned to his rancho. He pleaded with his friends to turn in his dead body and split up the reward with the other villagers. This is what they did.

Comments (4)

Displaying 1 - 4 of 4

SAM551974D @ 6/4/2010 10:52 PM

The part of this article part II about Santa Muerte is especially disturbing for very obvious reasons as stated and has become more prevalent in some locations along with population shifts...Well done and researched!

walkin' trails @ 6/6/2010 7:07 AM

This article was very informative. I've interviewed a couple of Santa Muerte practictioners and neither agreed on the significance of the colors of the robes. Both did say that a black robe indicated evil was afoot, but that was about it. One told me that red also indicated evil practices, i.e. drug trafficking, murder, gun running, etc. That one also said that a gold robe was a petition for fortune. I suspected that he was probably transporting currency, but was unable to gain consent to look in his vehicle. I got a copy of a Santa Muerte "bible," and though I haven't sat down to translate much of it as of yet, read in the opening pages that the Santa Muerte religion was also gaining followers from other walks of life, including law enforcement and was no longer just "smugglers, thieves, and prostitutes." I've noticed a trend in the midwest of "ad hoc" LE intelligence organizations popping up to fill the information void, and am glad to see that the idea has caught on in the border region. I'm also glad to see Sgt. Valdimar taking part.

Jim @ 10/19/2011 11:35 PM

Mexicans indeed believe in witchcraft. A friend of mine was married to a guy from a family of "brujos" or witches. She believed that she could make people fall in love with her or curse people through witchcraft. Interestingly she was a practicing Christian, but still believed in the power of evil.

Jim @ 10/19/2011 11:38 PM

I knew a girl who would 11 times smuggled cocaine from Panama to Tijuana. She also smuggled cash from Chicago back to Tijuana.

Shw would constantly take Holy Water from the Cathedral in TJ and bless herself. With such a high risk situation, people look for an edge.

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