[Mark Safranski / “zen“]
John P. Sullivan and Dr. Robert Bunker at Small Wars Journal analyze a narco prison riot in Mexico that had to be put down by Mexican troops that reportedly involved prisoners sacrificed in a Santa Muerte ritual.
This prison riot and resulting massacre is one of the most serious disturbances in a Mexican prison since the February 2016 riot at Monterrey’s Topo Chico prison. That incident, which involved a battle between Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, left at least 52 dead and 12 injured. Mexico’s prisons are volatile, plagued by corruption, and under minimal control by state authorities. This lack of control leads to inmate self-governance (autogobierno). According to one account, 60% of Mexican correctional facilities function under self-governance.
In this incident taking place at the Acapulco jail or Cereso (Centro de Readaptación Social), rival gangs battling for control led to a massacre with several persons (up to five, depending upon reports) beheaded. The guards reportedly did not intervene and may have participated in or facilitated the violence. The massacre reportedly occurred during inmate rituals in veneration of Santa Muerte. Prison officials have not confirmed those reports.
Guerrero’s governor supports the ritual aspect, noting that the majority of the dead were found in front of Santa Muerte coins which is indicative of ritual participation:
“Es difícil encontrar en los medios mexicanos más referencias concretas al aspecto ritual de la masacre. En Bajo Palabra leemos que el gobernador del estado de Guerrero, Héctor Astudillo Flores, ha descartado la riña como motivo, aunque fuera la primera línea de investigación, y ha afirmado que la mayoría de muertos fueron encontrados frente a una imagen de la Santa Muerte con monedas encima, por lo que consideran que se trataría de un ritual.”
….The actual role the veneration or worship of Santa Muerte played in this riot is unknown. The limited news imagery of the decapitated and slaughtered prisoners does not provide enough forensic evidence to suggest that any form of elaborate ritual took place. If such a hasty sacrificial ritual had been conducted, it may have been undertaken simply for narcoterrorist purposes in order to terrify the opposing drug gang with the future threat of ‘human sacrifice’ being directed at their membership. This explanation would be devoid of any form of an underlying spiritual basis and can simply be viewed as an extreme component of narco psychological operations (PSYOPS) being waged by one drug gang against another. On the other hand, this incident may be eventually confirmed as an act of mass human sacrifice derived from the new information now emerging:
Read the rest here.
The juxtaposition of extreme violence and religious context is a potent combination in terms of imaginative symbolism because it harkens back to the human sacrifices of Bronze Age paganism. This action may have been secular violence meant to terrify cartel rivals but the repeated association with religious cult ritual – in this case, the Mexican folk worship of “Saint Death” – blurs the lines between criminal irregular violence and religion. This tactic is also a calling card of ISIS as well as the narc0-cartels.
For more on irregular violence and cult practices, see this post as well as for a longer treatment, Blood Sacrifices: Violent Non-State Actors and Dark Magico-Religious Activities edited by Robert Bunker (and featuring chapters by Charles Cameron and myself).