Know Your Narco Saints: The Religious Iconography of the Drug Trade

Santa Muerte, the newly-popular Grim Reaper-like Mexican folk saint, and subject of this week's cover story, is not the only object of supernatural devotion in the drug trade. Far from it. In fact, she's something of a Johnny-come-lately in Mexican folk religion.

For as long as there have been smugglers in the borderlands, people have prayed to a litany of saints, some authorized by the Catholic church (even if the supplicant's intentions are not) and others granted unearthly powers by the people themselves.

Some of these figures are true "Narco-Saints," forthright patrons of illegal acts. Others are simply saints that narcos pray to, holy figures asked to intercede in unholy doings. Even Jesus and Mary are not considered beyond the pale.

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John Nova Lomax
Contact: John Nova Lomax