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They must die screaming
Constanzo

Adolfo de Jesús Constanzo, also known as "The Godfather of Matamoros" (Spanish: "El Padrino de Matamoros"), was a prolific cult leader, serial killer, proxy killer, abductor, one-time mass murderer, and drug dealer.

Background

Constanzo was born on November 1, 1962, in Miami the son of Delia Aurora Gonzalez del Valle, a 15-year-old Cuban immigrant who went on to have two additional children, each with different fathers. Her first husband, Constanzo's biological father, passed away when Constanzo was an infant. Afterwards\, she moved with her family to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she remarried. Though Constanzo, in compliance to his stepfather's wishes, was baptized as a Catholic and briefly served as an altar boy, he would come with his mother on her trips to Haiti, where he learned about Voodoo and practiced it secretly with his mother.

Constanzo's family moved back to Miami in 1972. His stepfather died of cancer the following year. At the age of 10, Constanzo became an apprentice under a priest in Little Havanna who practiced Palo Mayombe, which involves animal sacrifice. Around this time, Constanzo's mother remarried for the second time, this time to a man involved in the drug trade and Voodoo religions. Starting an apprenticeship with a Haitian priest, Constanzo spent his teens cruising gay clubs and committing petty crimes like vandalism and theft. He also started practicing fortune telling. Around the age of 18, he supposedly predicted that there would be an unsuccessful attempt on the life of President Ronald Reagan, which did indeed happen shortly afterwards. After graduating from high school with poor grades, he spent one semester at a junior college before leaving[1].

Killings, Drug Trade, and Death

In 1983, Constanzo pledged himself to Kadiempembe, the Palo Mayombe equivalent of the Devil, and moved to Mexico City, where he started his cult/cartel and met and recruited Martin Quintana Rodriguez, Omar Orea Ochoa, and Jorge Montes. He also began a sexual relation with both Quintana and Ochoa. The group started selling Constanzo's fortune telling and ritual cleansing services to the community. They often dealt with gangsters and drug dealers as well as high-ranking corrupt law enforcement officials. On their behalf, they performed rituals and animal sacrifices said to give their clients good luck, using both locally available animals like goats and chickens as well as exotic ones like zebras and lion cubs. At the peak of the cult's career, Constanzo had over 30 well-paying clients, had purchased a $60 000 condominium in Mexico City and several luxury cars and had recruited at least four members of the Federal Judicial Police. In 1985, they apparently escalated to using human remains in rituals, obtaining them by raiding a local graveyard.

In 1986, Constanzo was introduced to members of the Calzada crime family and started selling them his services as a fortune teller at a great profit. The following year, Constanzo demanded a full partnership with them. When they turned him down, his cult kidnapped, tortured and killed seven members of the Calzadas. The bodies were found with several body parts removed, including fingers, toes, brains and, in one case, the spine. Shortly afterwards he recruited another member, Sara Aldrete, whom he nicknamed "La Madrina" (Spanish for "the godmother") and appointed as high priestess of the cult. In 1988, Constanzo moved to Rancho Santa Elena, a compound in the Mexican desert he also used to store large amounts of drugs. This was when Constanzo became more focused on human sacrifices, killing several people for use in his rituals. Because most of them were prostitutes, homeless or drug dealers, the disappearances went under the radar.

On March 14, 1989, Constanzo's cult committed the murder that would contribute to its downfall. The previous day, they had sacrificed and killed a stranger to ensure the safe passage of a shipment of 800 kilos of marijuana Constanzo was trading. Feeling that the victim hadn't suffered enough during the sacrifice, Constanzo had his followers abduct and kill another victim. Their target became Mark J. Kilroy, an Texan pre-med student who was in Mexico on spring break, who was killed with a machete blow to the head. Additionally, Constanzo, as one final security for the marijuana shipment, killed a victim named Gilberot Sosa. Unfortunately for Constanzo, Kilroy hadn't been as anonymous as his prior victims; he came from a well-off family who offered a reward for information leading to his safe return and his disappearance led to Mexican officials coming under pressure from Texas politicians. Initially, the Matamoros police only arrested four of Constanzo's followers. However, on April 1, a drug dealer and associate of Constanzo, Serafin Hernandez Garcia, refused to stop at a checkpoint; supposedly he had truly believed himself to be protected by an invisibility charm Constanzo had sold his crime family. Hernandez was followed by local police to Rancho Santa Elena. The police performed a quick search of the property and found the drugs and firearms stored there and arrested Hernandez as well as another drug dealer, David Serna Valdez.

In custody, Hernandez confessed to abducting and killing Mark J. Kilroy and to assisting in the murders of 14 additional people. He then accompanied the police during a more thorough search of Rancho Santa Elena, which led to the discovery of 15 buried bodies (some sources claim it was over 25 bodies), including Mark J. Kilroy, as well as the nganga Constanzo had used for the sacrifices. Police also searched Constanzo's personal home in Mexico City, where they found a hidden torture chamber. Hearing about this, Constanzo had gone into hiding with four of his followers and planned to flee Mexico. He was infuriated when he heard on the news that Rancho Santa Elena had been burned and the site exorcised. On May 6, police officers were going door-to-door in an unrelated search for a missing child near where Constanzo and three of his followers, Aldrete, Quintana and a third member, Alvaro "El Duby" De Leon, were hiding. When the officers approached their door, Constanzo panicked and started firing at them. The resulting standoff lasted 45 minutes and involved over 180 police officers, only one of whom was injured. Unwilling to go to prison, Constanzo ordered De Leon to shoot him as well as Martin Quintana. After Constanzo and Quintana were dead, police arrested De Leon and Aldrete. They and 12 other cult members were charged with their various criminal activities done by the cult, including murder, drug trafficking, firearm offenses and obstruction of justice. Sara Aldrete, Serafin Hernandez and his brother Elio were sentenced to over 60 years in prison each, with De Leon receiving a 30-year sentence. None of them were prosecuted for Mark Kilroy's murder, though American authorities are ready to do so if they are ever released.

Modus Operandi

Several tools found in Constanzo's house.

Constanzo's victims were his professional rivals in the drug trade as well as random civilians. While the circumstances of their deaths could vary between being killed on the spot or abducted and then executed, the victims were somehow used in rituals derived from Santeria, Palo Mayombe, Aztec or warrior rituals meant to increase Constanzo's success as a drug dealer. Many of his later victims were abducted and tortured to death; Constanzo had instructed his followers to make sure the victims died in pain. Their body parts are known to have been used in rituals involving a nganga, a kind of iron cauldron used in Palo to trap evil spirits. He also shot some of them.

Known Victims

Note: The following list covers the victims of the cult as a whole

  • Unspecified dates: Numerous unspecified counts of vandalism, theft, and other victimless petty crimes
  • Unspecified dates in 1985: Numerous unspecified grave robbings (used human remains for sacrificial rituals)
  • April 30, 1987: Seven members of the Calzada crime family (mutilated; body parts were removed and taken)
    • Guillermo Calzada Sanchez (was tortured prior to his death)
    • Six unnamed victims
  • 1988:
    • May 28: Hector de la Fuente and Moises Castilo (both shot)
    • Unspecified date in July: Raul Paz Esquivel (tortured and dismembered)
    • Unspecified date in August: Unnamed victim (tortured and killed)
    • Unspecified date in November: Jorge Valente de Fierro Gomez (cult member; killed for using drugs)
  • 1989:
    • February 14: The following four were all tortured to death:
      • Ezequiel Rodriguez Luna
      • Ruben Vela Garza
      • Ernesto Rivas Diaz
    • February 23: Unnamed victim (attempted to kidnap, but was shot to death in a struggle)
    • February 25: Unnamed victim (cousin of one of his cult's members; tortured and killed; meant to make up for the botched killing of the February 23 victim)
    • March 13: Unnamed victim
    • March 14: Mark J. Kilroy, 21 (killed by a machete blow; his brain was removed and boiled and his legs cut off post-mortem)
    • March 28: Gilberto Sosa
    • May 6: The shootout
      • Numerous unnamed police officers (attempted to shoot)
      • Martin Quintana (cult member and his lover; ordered De Leon to shoot him along with Constanzo himself)

On Criminal Minds

  • Season Six
    • "Corazón" - While not directly mentioned or referenced in this episode, Constanzo appears to have been an inspiration for the episode's unsub, Hollis Walker - Both were serial killers and abductors who had varying M.O.s (including post-mortem dismemberment, shooting, and hacking with a machete) and implemented Voodoo, Santeria, and Palo Mayombe in their killings.
  • Season Eleven

On Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders

While Constanzo and his cult were never directly mentioned or referenced on Beyond Borders, they appear to have been an inspiration for the following unsubs:

  • Season One
    • Antonio Cayetan ("Love Interrupted") - Both were Hispanic serial killers and abductors who included elements of Aztec ritual sacrifice and dismemberment into their killings, and mixed beliefs from religions both native and non-native to their area (Cayetan mixed Belizean Mayan and Mexican Aztec beliefs; while Constanzo performed Afro-Caribbean Voodoo and Palo Mayombe rituals), and both ordered their followers to commit suicide when their hideouts were raided by law enforcement and were later fatally shot. Their names also seem to slightly mirror each other.
  • Season Two
    • The Gonzalez Sisters ("La Huesuda") - All three were abductors who killed their victims with a single blow from a cutting tool (a machete in Constanzo's case, a sickle in the Gonzalez's), hanged their bodies with a wire, chopped off their genitals and removed head-based organs to be used in their rituals (each done to a different victim in the Gonzalez's case). Also, in both cases, the group killed a visiting American student (Mark Kilroy in the Narcosatanists' case, Lee Kern in the Gonzalez's), prompting a joint Mexican-American investigation that led to the discovery and dismantlement of the group.

Sources

References

  1. Sources differ saying he either dropped out or was expelled
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