Sara Aldrete Was Former Lover Of Adolfo De Jesus Constanzo
Sara Aldrete is a woman of contradictions. With the body of an Amazon, this blonde bombshell stands at over 1.8 metres tall and was a star student at her college. When classes finished, however, she would drive across the border to Mexico to become La Madrina – High Priestess of the Narcosatanica drug cartel cult.
Together with her former lover Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, she led rituals torturing then cooking human sacrifices to protect the henchmen who shipped their organizations marijuana far and wide. Convicted in 1990, Sara claims she was actually held prisoner and forced into participation while Constanzo led the rites, but former friends were later freaked out when remembering her knowledge of the occult long before the brains hit the pan.
Sara grew up in Matamoros, a border town between Mexico and the USA. She lived at home with her parents but would cross into Brownsville each day to study at Texas Southmost College. Sara was not ordinary, but above average – she was on the honour roll for achieving good grades, had won the school’s Outstanding Physical Education Award, taught aerobics and still found time to work for the college administration to boost the financial aid that she was getting to support her studies.
Her fellow students and teachers (including an anthropology professor who taught on religious rituals) found her to be a good girl and totally dedicated. It’s a wonder that she didn’t also breed cute kittens, so wholesome and perfect as her image at the time.
But as Former Deputy Sherif George Gavito commented, it wasn’t unusual for students on the border to have diferent lives either side of it: “Sara would cross that border to Mexico and she would become somebody else,” he said. She was a resident alien with permission to be in both countries. It was later noticed that for someone on financial aid, she always left campus in a new car that was equipped with what newspapers at the time reported as “a cellular phone”, practically unheard of in 1989. Sara was getting money and, it seemed, maybe more, from someone or somewhere else.
Mexico is joined to the land of the free, but it’s not all prosperity. The capital city is dominated by the Metropolitan cathedral, the oldest and largest in Latin America. It is a blazing sun of gold and the religious icons of the virgin and child, surrounded by the saints. In the bustling city centre, emporiums are filled with expensive religious paraphernalia, from statues of the blessed Mary to church-sized bells so that shoppers can recreate the experience of the holy house at home. Step outside of the main streets, however, and it’s a different story.
The opulence promptly dissolves into run-down avenues, which are nevertheless littered with beautiful, wind-kissed shrines. The tourist pamphlets advise travellers to stick to the main straits to avoid corrupt police or being kidnapped for small ransoms by unregulated taxi firms. In places where poverty looms at the door, people seek deliverance, either by a God or by drugs that are used to blot out desperation – in Mexico, the two may go hand in hand.
Sara may have desired to escape the drab surroundings of her life – a shotgun wedding that had taken place when she was little more than a child. To weather the hurricane of her emotions, she followed the yellow dust road to the drama of danger and the lair of Adolfo Constanzo. A career criminal, he had noticed that Sara dated one of his rivals and had links to the infamous Hernandez cartel, so he initiated a meeting with her. Perhaps if she could be persuaded to worship at his altar, he could convince her of her own ability to have power over his men.
Adolfo’s intense charisma was an immediate attraction for the young girl. His self-belief may well have been inbuilt by his lineage, for his family had practiced Santeria – a form of occultism or witchcraft – for years. It claims to be the real deal rather than the type of illusion associated with stage magic.
Occultism can in theory be white or black, good or bad, or any number of grey areas in the middle. It depends on how it is used and, of course, there is huge debate as to whether or not it works. What it can definitely do is bestow an air of mystery on the practitioner that can make them – or the idea of the magic they claim irresistible to those who are looking for something missing in their own lives.
Whether or not occultists have supernatural powers becomes immaterial because they can change people’s behaviour if those people believe their behaviour can be changed. Add this ‘power’ to the fact that Adolfo was also handsome, and it’s not hard to see how Sara fell for him, and he is said to have taught her how to control death itself.
The glamour of witchcraft was increased because the cult was dealing with some very powerful people. Various kinds of occultism are popular in South America and, just like with religion, believers come from all corners of society. The who’s who of Mexico, from police to politicians and famous celebrities, would visit ‘El Padrino’ – the Godfather Adolfo and his sorcerer, Sara.
They would sign their names in the book that contained the arcane symbols that were the workings for all of the rituals. This formality done, the seekers would explain their innermost wishes – ‘inner’ being the operative word, as Adolfo specialized in human sacrifice. He ‘developed’ the Santeria shown him by his ancestors, crossing it with Palo Mayombe-style sacrificial practices from the Congo.
It’s common in folk magick across the world to place things, including precious metals and animal parts, representing the aim of the spell into a container before performing a ritual to give it power. Lucky rabbit’s foot charms are a remnant of this practice, but Adolfo switched beast for human. If he wanted to prepare a strength potion for a client, he would add human muscle to his pot or nganga. Seeking renewed vitality? That would require the sacrifice of a young child or maybe even a newborn babe. Corpses missing hearts, brains and vertebrae were found buried in the grounds of the Narcosatanica’s ritual shack.
Trade was swift. but sustained money in the Mexican underworld meant drugs. The cults next mission was to plan how to keep their trafﬁcking mules out of sight of the police, and for this they needed brains. Several acolytes were sent to a street popular with spring-breaking students for its cheap drinks and thriving nightlife. There they chanced upon Mark Kilroy, a bright medical student and all-round good American. He was kidnapped on a side road.
The publicity surrounding this final murder led to the police seeking out the hut. Justice had been unable to apprehend the gang largely because. according to Former Deputy Sheriff Gavito. Many police believe in magick just as much as the civilians do. For those ofﬁcers, it must have felt like a trip to Oz to venture oft to see the great and terrible cult leader and return with the wizard’s head as bounty for their deﬁance Gavito a large animated man who had years of experience on the force, was on the expedition himself.
He knew that people were shielding the cultists out of fear that armies of followers, probably propelled by the flames of hell itself, would wing their way to anyone who tried to stop them. Gavito knew those wings would have to be clipped.
Picking up his own trusty plastic wand, he dialled the magic number of the media to debunk the deluded drug devotees. That afternoon, a team of police pulled back the curtain on the secretive world of Narcosatanica. They, like Sara, followed the yellow dust road to a little shack with a green roof surrounded by a tumble down wooden fence. Unlike Sara, and advancing with the power of logic, they set fire to one of the ritual pots that had been left outside. A dragon screech of ﬂame engulfed the building.
Neither demon nor henchman materialized and the lie of the couple’s invincibility was caught on him and beamed to television sets across the land. It didn’t matter if magick was possible or not, Adolfo’s was not strong enough to defeat Mexican law, and he went on the run, taking Sara with him.
More than a dozen bodies were found in multiple graves at the cult site, including that of missing college student Mark Kilroy. When police raided Adolfo’s ranch, they found this caldron containing bones, a turtle shell, the head and claws of a rooster, a goat’s head and a horseshoe. Sara, Adolfo and other key cult members were later cornered by police. Adolfo chose death over prison and was shot by one of his followers. Sara was taken into custody.
There’s No Place Like Home
“I want to see my father,” Sara said at her arraignment. She claimed that Constanzo had forced her to go into hiding with him and that she had known of the murders only through TV reports. Furthermore, she asked that her apologies be conveyed to Mark Kilroy’s family, and co- cultist Alvaro de Leon Valdez backed up her claim that she was not involved in the murders. That said, it’s likely that she did want to click her heels and return to Matamoros, before the law did at any rate…
Bloodied walls, burn marks on the floor, an altar and candles were found by police when they raided the little bedroom Sara kept in her parents’ home. Other stories began to surface. They had seemed like nothing but the innocent eccentricity of a smart but restless mind, but now they were sinister: school friends recalled the jewellery she had warned them not to touch lest it caused them harm and people remembered her repeated screenings of The Believers, a film about a cult that practices magick to gain wealth.
Her friends only reconsidered in hindsight the moment that she stood up after a screening and spoke in a strange voice of occultism. She had interests in sacrificial magick and was with the cultists when she was found. If she had ever ‘looked behind the curtain’ to see what Constanzo was really like prior to her arrest, she’d immediately closed her eyes again afterwards. Home was where her dark imaginings were and she was trapped there – she’d never really been away.
Sara was found not guilty on the charge of murdering Constanzo himself but she was initially sentenced to a six- year term for criminal association. She was subsequently sentenced to 62 years in prison for her part in the cult’s other multiple murders. 11 years later, she released Me Dicen La Narco Satanica, a book detailing her side of the story. She has always maintained her innocence of the murders. She remains in prison where she continues to practice Santeria to this day.
A key aspect of belief is that the believer is participating for ‘the right reasons’, whether it is for self-development, the greater social good or just because they believe there is a force out there that is compelling them to do so.
What has been left out of many reports is that the burned Narcosatanica ritual shack was subsequently blessed with a purification rite – a series of hand signals together with the sign of the cross and lashings of white powder. It was designed to evict the evil spirits that resided there and replace them with the protection of another invisible force – the Christian God. In other areas, crime scenes are made safe by police tape. We all have forces in which we choose to place our faith. It’s just that some, such as the law, work better than others.