When an American went missing in Mexico, it led police to a scene of utter depravity.
In March 1989, over 250,000 American students descended on Matamoros in Mexico, to party. Few, if any, of them would have had any idea how dangerous the area was.
Since New Year, 60 locals had vanished… Now, Texas medical student Mark Kilroy, 21, joined them.
Officers searched the remote Rancho Santa Elena, which had been linked to the Hernandez drugs cartel. They discovered rows of men’s bodies – all had been raped and tortured, many with flesh and organs removed.
Mark Kilroy was among them, his skull emptied. And there was a cauldron, brimming with blood, animal remains… and Mark Kilroy’s brain.
The gang boasted that the police couldn’t hold them. For in return for the human sacrifices, they said the Devil protected them from harm and arrest.
‘It’s our religion,’ one explained. ‘Our voodoo’.
And their leader, who committed each ritual slaying, known as El Padrino (the Godfather), had vanished.
Police investigated his past. El Padrino was Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, then 26, born in Miami to Delia, a 15-year-old Cuban immigrant. She was regularly arrested for trespassing, shoplifting, fraud, theft – and neglecting Adolfo. Yet she always escaped with just probation.
And Delia put that down to her Cuban religion, Palo Mayombe, popular with criminals as believers can freely use ‘black magic’ for evil and profit.
Delia had been overjoyed when a Palo priest announced that baby Adolfo was ‘a chosen one…destined for great power’. She had him apprenticed to a priest who immersed him in the Palo religion, involving sacrificing animals in bloody rituals.
She announced that her son could predict the future.
As a teenager, Adolfo came out as gay. By now he was carrying out sacrificial rituals using animals and issuing voodoo curses.
Then Adolfo moved to Mexico, offering his psychic powers to drugs cartels.
Taking on the name El Padrino, he’d feed his cauldron with blood, animal remains, spiders, scorpions, and human bones raided from graveyards. Then he’d predict safe times to transport drugs, or make his followers bulletproof and invisible to police.
He chose two men as lovers and attracted a huge following.
Adolfo now began sacrificing men or boys – drug dealers he’d argued with, ex-lovers, disobedient followers, or those kidnapped …
Each died in pain. It was all part of the ritual. ‘They must die screaming,’ he announced. So he’d rape each man, then torture and mutilate them.
He had an inner circle, making Sara Aldrete the cult’s La Madrina or Godmother. Together they oversaw numerous murders, and Adolfo went on to take over the powerful Hernandez drugs cartel, claiming 50 per cent of their profits.
But his luck changed when the cult slaughtered Mark Kilroy – and police raided their hideout.
Somehow, Adolfo escaped, along with Sara, two male lovers and a hitman called El Duby.
For months they hid away, until they became involved in an armed siege with police.
Adolfo gave his sub-machine gun to El Duby, who later recalled: ‘He told me to kill him and Martin (his lover). 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 shot them.’
Adolfo escaped into death. It’s unknown how many victims he slaughtered, but 14 of his followers were jailed for between 35 to 67 years for multiple murders, drugs and weapons offences.