Satanic Sacrifice in the South?
Are the drug cartels using demonic rituals to protect themselves from the U.S. government? Let’s pray for protection.
From The New Yorker. When I was twelve, my mother, Sally Bethea, co-founded a nonprofit that was eventually called Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, or C.R.K. Part of the Waterkeeper Alliance, a network of environmental groups devoted to defending rivers, bays, and other bodies of water, C.R.K. seeks to protect the four-hundred-and-thirty-five-mile river that flows across northeast Georgia and then south to the Gulf of Mexico. (There are now more than three hundred waterkeeper groups around the world.) She was not only the group’s executive director but also the designated riverkeeper, positions she held for more than two decades.
After my mom retired, Jason Ulseth became the riverkeeper, assuming all boat-related duties. One October a few years ago, he took three of the group’s donors, all women in middle age, on a two-hour tour of the river that included a stretch ten miles west of downtown Atlanta, where the Chattahoochee passes a Six Flags Theme Park and goes under an I-20 bridge. Ulseth had boated it a hundred times before. “But, this time,” he told me recently, “I saw something white off on the side near the bridge.” He pulled the boat over to the bank. “There were eight or nine baby decapitated goats just floating in the water. … ”
… [That] morning in October, Ulseth said, marked the beginning of the Chattahoochee’s headless-goat era. “After that, I found them there pretty much every single time I’d go out,” he told me. “Just bodies, never heads. Sometimes dozens.” Ulseth estimates that in the roughly four years since that day he’s found around five hundred decapitated goats in the Chattahoochee. …
The case of the headless goats is a mystery. It’s also a public-health hazard, and a nightmare for a stretch of river that’s newly safe for recreation—the water south of Atlanta is dramatically less polluted than it was decades ago, thanks in large part to C.R.K.’s work. Private developers and local governments have begun installing boat ramps and other infrastructure to make the area more accessible. “A family can now have a nice paddle on the river and then take out right there near Six Flags,” Ulseth told me. “But, as soon as someone paddles down and sees that crap,” he said, referring to the goat carcasses, “they’re never coming back.”
One theory about the headless goats of the Chattahoochee focusses on the Afro-Caribbean religious tradition Santería, also known as Lukumí and La Regla de Ocha. The practice sometimes involves animal sacrifice. …
I called former agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to see if they had heard of any leads. One directed me to Robert Almonte, a retired deputy chief of the El Paso Police Department, who worked a number of narcotics investigations, then served as the U.S. Marshall for the Western District of Texas from 2010 to 2016. He has since founded a consulting company that specializes in the activities of Mexican drug cartels, including how “they involve the spiritual world in their activities,” as Almonte put it. Almonte offers seminars, which, he told me, help law-enforcement agents identify likely perpetrators. (He says that several major arrests of cartel members have resulted from these seminars.)
I told Almonte about what was turning up in the Chattahoochee. He didn’t sound surprised. “I’m seeing more and more of the drug traffickers using Santería for protection over the last couple of years,” he said. “But that’s a lot of goats. That would mean they’re moving a lot of drugs along that highway.”
Drug smugglers have long attempted to exploit religion for their own purposes, Almonte said. “Back in the day, on raids, we’d mostly see shrines and altars,” he told me. “But it usually consisted of prayer candles related to the Catholic Church.” Now, he said, “you’re seeing more cartel traffickers using Santería” and Palo Mayombe, an Afro-Caribbean religious tradition, as well as a Latin American practice called Santa Muerte. …
Almonte figures that Mexican cartel operators could be sacrificing goats for safe passage to or from Atlanta, and dumping them in the river. He said that he wouldn’t be surprised if the G.B.I. or the F.B.I. is investigating the connection between the goats and drug trafficking; later, someone with direct knowledge of the matter confirmed to me the existence of such an investigation. …
After speaking with Almonte, I called up Miguel De La Torre, a professor of social ethics at the Iliff School of Theology, in Denver, who grew up practicing Santería and has written extensively on the subject. … I described the situation, and explained Almonte’s theory. “There are certain religious traditions where animal sacrifices are made to gain enough power to accomplish something,” De La Torre said. “The strongest energy, the strongest power, is in blood….” … De La Torre did not think that the connection between Santería and smuggling was clearly established—and the location of the headless goats in the Chattahoochee struck him as odd. “If it was Santería, the fact that it was by a river means that it was an offering to Oshun, the goddess of love,” he explained. “Not exactly the kind of orisha that you want to sacrifice to to smuggle drugs.”
Still, De La Torre conceded that the headless goats could be the work of spiritual opportunists, “copycatting Santería” for their own purposes. “Drug dealers who are not part of the religion but are making it up as they go along based on what they read on the Web,” as he put it. He offered an analogy. …
When I first spoke to De La Torre, he said that if he were going to use Santería to gain protection for smuggling drugs, he’d probably sacrifice a black dog, because that is what Oggun, a warrior deity, would want. He’d leave the dog’s body by a railroad track, because Oggun is also lord of iron, he added. But he followed up by e-mail a few days later. “The more I think of it, the goat is one of the preferred sacrifices of Elegguá,” another orisha, “who ‘opens the way,’ he wrote. A sacrifice to Elegguá would typically be “left by a four-way street crossing.” Goats and highways, in other words, made some sense to him. But a headless goat, in a river? That was harder to understand.
How are you praying against these demonic activities? Share this article to raise awareness of these sacrifices.
(Excerpt from The New Yorker. Photo Credit: Canva)
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