New Suspect Arrested In Ritual Slayings Case
BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) _ U.S. authorities Monday arrested the son of the owner of a Mexican ranch where human sacrifice was performed by a drug-smuggling cult suspected in 15 killings.
Serafin Hernandez Rivera Sr. of Brownsville was one of three men charged in federal warrants Monday with marijuana importation, possession and conspiracy. The other two were Martin Quintana and Mario Fabio, both Mexicans.
Authorities believe Quintana and Fabio took part in the sacrificial slaying and mutilation of University Texas student Mark Kilroy, who disappeared while vacationing at the border during spring break, said Oran Neck, chief U.S. Customs agent here.
The two were among six suspects who remained at large, and were considered dangerous, Neck said.
Hernandez, the fifth suspect arrested in the case, was apprehended at a Houston residence by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Texas Department of Public Safety agents, Neck said.
Meanwhile, the hunt for Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, 26, and Sara Maria Aldrete, 24, believed to be the cult’s ringleaders, shifted back to Mexico after authorities received information they had gone to Mexico City intending to go to Miami from there, Neck said.
″There might be one or two other subjects with them,″ Neck said, declining to elaborate.
Constanzo is a Cuban-American who has lived in Miami, and Aldrete is a Texas college student who authorities said lived a double life as the ″witch″ of the cult.
Hernandez’ father, Brigido Hernandez, owns Rancho Santa Elena near Matamoros, Mexico, where human sacrifices allegedly took place. Brigido Hernandez has not been charged in the slayings.
The Hernandez family has a long history of drug smuggling, Neck said. Serafin Hernandez is the brother of Elio Hernandez Rivera, 22 - considered one of the top cult figures - and the father of Serafin Hernandez Garcia, 20.
Both Elio Hernandez Rivera and Serafin Hernandez Garcia were in custody in Matamoros. The younger Serafin Hernandez is suspected of drug activities but was not believed to have taken part in cult activities.
The filing of federal Mexican charges against those two and two other susepcts in custody in Matamoros was delayed Monday by the discovery the day before of two bodies near the ranch, where 13 mutilated corpses were found last week.
The bodies of two suspected drug traffickers missing since May were unearthed Sunday on a collective farm two miles south of the Rancho Santa Elena.
The two victims, Moises Castillo, 52, of Houston and Hector de la Fuente, 39, who lived on a small communal farm west of Matamoros, did not appear to have been tortured or mutilated like the others, officials said.
The new deaths complicated the case, said Jose Piedad Silva Arroyo, Mexico’s chief federal narcotics investigator for northeastern Tamaulipas state.
Silva said authorities were considering adding the latest victims’ deaths to the murder, kidnapping, drug and weapons charges already pending against the four suspects.
Although relatives disputed the description, officials said the two newly found victims were drug dealers somehow involved with the cult.
Castillo’s 76-year-old father, Hidalgo Castillo of Brownsville, helped police dig up his son’s body. He said he first suspected his son might be buried at the communal farm after children told him they saw something suspicious there.
″They said, ’Look over there. There’s a hand sticking out of the ground,‴ Castillo said.
Across the Rio Grande in Brownsville, Cameron County Sheriff Alex Perez described the two newly discovered deaths as drug-related, ″revenge-type killings.″
At least three of the 13 victims found earlier have also been said to be tied to the group by the drug business.
The suspects in custody have told investigators that cult members were involved in occult practices inspired by palo mayombe, a form of spiritism that draws on African and Caribbean influences.
The suspects also said that they were encouraged by Aldrete to watch the movie ″The Believers,″ which deals with people practicing palo mayombe.
Constanzo and Ms. Aldrete, charged with aggravated kidnapping by Cameron County authorities, are believed to have directed the human sacrifices, mutilations and boiling of brains and other organs in rituals to bring occult protection for their drug-smuggling ring.
Numerous people have called to report sightings of the pair, said Cameron County Sheriff’s Lt. George Gavito said.