Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Narco Message Accusing Men of Murder Left at Santa Muerte Altar in Colima City

By "El Huaso" for Borderland Beat

A message naming accused murderers was left on the front door of a shrine to Santa Muerte in Colima City, Colima. Borderland Beat spoke to Santa Muerte expert Dr. Andrew Chesnut to learn the significance of placing a message here.

An image of the message, shared by a narco news Twitter account, shows the accusation sloppily scrawled on a paper banner. The message was left hanging on the door to the closed shrine. While the Twitter post does not mention the date or location of the photo, the contents match one shown in a 2016 article on the opening of the altar.

The message says:

These fucking relics with that piece of shit Lopez and their son Jose Luis RL El Chago of Fatima are the ones who killed "El Chore" Oscar Manuel JCH. They came for no other reason.

Other threatening messages have been left in Colima City related to Santa Muerte. 

In June 2022, a large painting of Santa Muerte with an hourglass was left near the Attorney Generals office in Colima City, reported the same Twitter narco news account, who claimed that local authorities were investigating the event.

One month later, in July 2022, Colima Noticias reported that authorities removed a threatening message from the altar. This message threatened Fernando Moreno Peña, a former governor of Colima (1997-2003). Moreno Peña has previously faced violence, and was wounded in an armed attack at a Colima restaurant in 2015.

Santa Muerte Shrines in Colima City

Santa Muerte altars have been in Colima City for a decade. There are two main Santa Muerte altars in Colima City. The first was opened in the Colonia Manuel M. Diéguez neighborhood in 2013, to the vexation of local Christian and Catholic religious communities. 

The second, where the most recent message was left, was opened in 2016 on Avenida Rey Colimán.

Both buildings are open to the public. They each feature several large Santa Muerte figures, paintings, and dozens of offerings of candles, money, and cigars behind a large glass front window. Above the entrances in large black lettering are the words "En Ti Confió" (I trust in you).

In May 2022, the altar in Colonia Manuel M. Diéguez was burned by unidentified arsonists.

Santa Muerte in Mexico

The worship of Santa Muerte (Saint Death in English) traces its roots to pre Spanish culture, but her following burst into public view in the 21st century and is now the fastest growing new religious movement in the Americas. Its 12 million followers belong to all strata of society. An expert on Santa Muerte, Dr. Andrew Chesnut encountered high schoolers, lawyers, police officers, and criminals who all prayed to Santa Muerte.

Santa Muerte has been associated with organized crime in Mexico for decades. It is not uncommon for security forces to discover shrines or figurines of Santa Muerte in the homes of narco traffickers. Because of the intertwinement with organized crime, Mexico's government began seeking and destroying the shrines in the late 2000s.

However, Santa Muerte is also cherished by many in law enforcement, a result of the belief that she can protect her followers from harm. Dr. Andrew Chesnut told Borderland Beat that "Because Santa Muerte is believed to be death itself she has a particular appeal to those wishing either to cause death to others or to prevent their own demise or that of friends, family or associates."

Based on the limited information it is unclear if the banner was written and left by a devotee of Santa Muerte said  Dr. Andrew Chesnut, but "they obviously chose the shrine because the skeleton saint is the most potent symbol of death in Mexico and the author of the banner is denouncing the alleged murderers of their associate". 

Sources: @Doujinshi15 Twitter, Chiapas Quadratin, Colima Noticias 2022, @LosHechosNOMien Twitter, Aristegui Noticias, Diario de Colima 2022, @Doujinshi15 Twitter June 2022, Email correspondence with Santa Muerte expert Dr. Andrew Chesnut, March 2023.

Special thanks to Dr. Andrew Chesnut for his time and information. Dr. Chesnut is a Professor of Religious Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of the first academic book in English on Santa Muerte, the fastest growing new religious movement in the West.

You can follow him on Twitter @AndrewChesnut1 here, and you can find his book, "Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint", here


  1. it is a good book, i have read it

  2. who opens and operates these shrines? are there priests

    1. This article says not even the hired cleaner knows who owns the shrine

  3. Bola de chismosos con sus mantitas.

  4. Santissima muerte so many artists make song about it, tigres del norte, maka


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