Law Enforcement: Patron Saint of Drug Trafficking Gaining Prominence in West Texas 9/27/12
Midland/Odessa, TX - Its commonly known as the patron saint of the drug war. The Ector county Sheriff's office says icons of Santa Muerte are common in Mexico and in border towns, but now deputies are seeing the symbol of death more often in West Texas.
"Deputies would see this particular saint on drug busts," said Sheriff Mark Donaldson.
What's alarming, Sheriff Donaldson says, is there is a demand for it. Mercado El Rancho in Odessa has the Santa Muerte candles stacked on the shelves with other patron saints.
"There was a point in Mexico's history when Christianity came in and the old religions over lapped." said Father Mark Woodruff
He says Santa Muerte isn't affiliated with Catholicism.
“Its a superstition,” he said, “Saints were actually real people who did honorable things."
He says this sounds like a loophole for evil doing and the Catholic community should not associate with this symbol.
"You wouldn't want to pray to a good saint for something bad," he said.
"Whats the deference between this and other religious items?"
"We don't drug raid the homes of people with other religious items," Donaldson said.
Donaldson says his deputies find Santa Muerte symbols on anything from small pendants and candles to full shrines. Some prayers blatantly ask for protection from the law.
But Donaldson says saint or no saint, a drug dealer's prayers will not prevent prosecution.
"It obviously isn't working," he said.
Back in december 2010, The US Marshalls in Midland gave a presentation to our local law enforcement on the "patron saints of the Mexican drug underworld."
The workshop showcased drug and human traffickers and the different kinds of saints and icons that they say protect them from law enforcement.