Shrine to Santa Muerte, patron saint of cartels, appears roadside in area where 21 bodies have been found in last year near US-Mexico border

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • Shrine to Santa Muerte built in Juarez, Mexico across from El Paso, Texas by unknown source 
  • Santa Muerte is considered the patron saint of the Mexican cartels 
  • Images of cartel saint often found on criminals when arrested or in alters in their homes 

A shine to the patron saint of cartels has mysteriously popped up in the Mexican city across the border from El Paso, Texas.

It’s unknown who built the gray cinder block structure that houses an elaborate alter to Santa Muerte, or Holy Death, on Camino Real Highway in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

In recent years, US law enforcement has become increasingly interested in the cloaked skeleton woman holding a globe and sickle in her hands, as images of the figure are increasingly tied to individuals in organized crime both the US and Mexico. 

A man arrived at the shrine built of Santa Muerte in Juarez to ask for protection as he’s a truck driver in Mexico

The Santa Muerte shrine in Juarez, Mexico is not far from the US-Mexico border and the neighboring US city of El Paso, Texas

The Santa Muerte shrine in Juarez, Mexico is not far from the US-Mexico border and the neighboring US city of El Paso, Texas

This statue of the Holy Death was seized by the DEA in 2011 from two women transporting over 700 grams of methamphetamine between Arizona and Minnesota, was painted gold to represent economic power, success, and prosperity

This statue of the Holy Death was seized by the DEA in 2011 from two women transporting over 700 grams of methamphetamine between Arizona and Minnesota, was painted gold to represent economic power, success, and prosperity

The temple to the female personification of death is located in the western most part of the city.

Coincidentally, 21 bodies have been dumped there in the 14 months, according to the Border Report. 

Thursday, the remains of two men wrapped in blankets and bound with electrical wire were the latest to be found there.

Santa Muerte has been denounced by the Catholic Church, forbids her worship as blasphemous.

However, cult-like followers have been growing in recent years, including within the drug cartel community. 

The DEA says members of the Gulf, Sinaloa and Juarez drug cartels are known to venerate her.

This is highlighted in the recent arrest of a woman wanted in Mexico for cartel killings where she would dismember her victims and remove their hearts as offerings to an altar of  ‘Santa Muerte’

Michelle Pineda, known as ‘La Chely, was allegedly involved in five murders and suspected of playing a role in several other killings in Juárez, the FBI said in a statement. 

The 22-year-old was had unlawfully crossed into the US was running a drug trafficking ring for the ‘Artistas Asesinos’ street gang – a Sinaloa Cartel enforcement unit in El Paso.

The FBI and US Border Patrol tracked her down to a motel in West Texas, where she was taken in custody last month. 

Mexican national Michelle Pineda was arrested by the FBI and U.S. Border Patrol at an El Paso, Texas hotel last Thursday. The 22-year-old is accused of five murders and participating in several others with members of the Artistas Asesinos - a gang linked to the Sinaloa Cartel - in the border city of Ciudad Juárez

Mexican national Michelle Pineda was arrested by the FBI and U.S. Border Patrol at an El Paso, Texas hotel last Thursday. The 22-year-old is accused of five murders and participating in several others with members of the Artistas Asesinos – a gang linked to the Sinaloa Cartel – in the border city of Ciudad Juárez

Federal and local agents raided the hotel where Michelle Pineda was staying at and found two guns, knives, machetes and an unspecified amount of drugs, including fentanyl powder and pills

Federal and local agents raided the hotel where Michelle Pineda was staying at and found two guns, knives, machetes and an unspecified amount of drugs, including fentanyl powder and pills

Francisco Oropesa, a 38-year-old Mexican, is on the run after shooting dead five people in Cleveland, Texas on Friday night

Francisco Oropesa, a 38-year-old Mexican, is on the run after shooting dead five people in Cleveland, Texas on Friday night

Oropesa had several tattoos dedicated to the 'Santa Muerte death cult'. A shrine honoring the cult was found in his room following the massacre

Oropesa had several tattoos dedicated to the ‘Santa Muerte death cult’. A shrine honoring the cult was found in his room following the massacre

In another case, a Texas gunman who shot dead five people in 2023, including a nine-year-old, had an elaborate altar to the saint in his house.

Francisco Oropesa, 38, opened fire in his neighbors’ Cleveland home, about 40 miles north of Houston, in May 2023 after they asked him to stop firing the gun in his backyard.

Oropesa, who is an illegal immigrant from Mexico previously referred to as Oropeza by police, fled the scene as a nationwide manhunt unfolded. 

The shrine in Oropesa’s bedroom sat on top of glass shelving. Candles from the display were still burning from when the gunman opened fire on his victims.

Additionally, Oropesa had a tattoo with of the death cult patroness on one of his arms. 

ᴀʀᴛɪᴄʟᴇ ꜱᴏᴜʀᴄᴇ

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