Friday, February 3, 2012

Latin American High Weirdness: The Cults VI

In parts four and five of this series we examined the life and times of notorious cultist, drug dealer and serial killer Adolfo Constanzo, especially the parts that don't jive with mainstream accounts. Of course, virtually everything about Constanzo is curious and seemingly awash in occult undertones. He is officially credited with 23 murders, though no one is really certain just how many deaths his cult was responsible for. Twenty-three is a rather ironic total given the number's own curious nature. The great Robert Anton Wilson called it the 23 enigma. Of it, he wrote:
"I first heard of the 23 enigma from William S Burroughs, author of Naked Lunch, Nova Express, etc. According to Burroughs, he had known a certain Captain Clark, around 1960 in Tangier, who once bragged that he had been sailing 23 years without an accident. That very day, Clark’s ship had an accident that killed him and everybody else aboard. Furthermore, while Burroughs was thinking about this crude example of the irony of the gods that evening, a bulletin on the radio announced the crash of an airliner in Florida, USA. The pilot was another captain Clark and the flight was Flight 23.

"Burroughs began collecting odd 23s after this gruesome synchronicity, and after 1965 I also began collecting them. Many of my weird 23s were incorporated into the trilogy Illuminatus! which I wrote in collaboration with Robert J Shea in 1969–1971. I will mention only a few of them here, to give a flavour to those benighted souls who haven’t read Illuminatus! yet:

"In conception, Mom and Dad each contribute 23 chromosomes to the fœtus. DNA, the carrier of the genetic information, has bonding irregularities every 23rd Angstrom. Aleister Crowley, in his Cabalistic Dictionary, defines 23 as the number of 'life' or 'a thread', hauntingly suggestive of the DNA life-script. On the other hand, 23 has many links with termination: in telegraphers’ code, 23 means 'bust' or 'break the line', and Hexagram 23 in I Ching means 'breaking apart'. Sidney Carton is the 23rd man guillotined in the old stage productions of A Tale of Two Cities. (A few lexicographers believe this is the origin of the mysterious slang expression '23 Skiddoo!'.)

"Some people are clusters of bloody synchronicities in 23. Burroughs discovered that the bootlegger 'Dutch Schultz' (real name: Arthur Flegenheimer) had Vincent 'Mad Dog' Coll assassinated on 23rd Street in New York when Coll was 23 years old. Schultz himself was assassinated on 23 October. Looking further into the Dutch Schultz case, I found that Charlie Workman, the man convicted of shooting Schultz, served 23 years of a life sentence and was then paroled."

Robert Anton Wilson posing with the number 23

Certainly a 23 association with Constanzo will only add to the curious legacy of the number. Whether authorities legitimately thought 23 was the actual total of Constanzo's killings, whether it was randomly selected, or whether is was picked for its occult significance, is one of those things we shall never know. We will also likely never know whether or not the Constanzo cult in fact died off with its leader, or whether some version continued to flourish in Mexico and the U.S. after Constanzo's death. Several members of the Constanzo cult would claim that the sect was still active.
"The first hint that the cult might not have died with Constanzo came from Martin Quintana's sister, Teresa, as she babbled to the Mexican police three weeks before the shootout.

"She told them that Mara, Constanzo's first madrina, was not dead after all, but had moved to Guadalajara. Martin had said Mara ran boutiques for Constanzo there, but Mara confided to Teresa that she really was a witch, in the same religion as Constanzo.

"According to Teresa Quintana, Mara originally came from Veracruz, Mexico's center for witchcraft, with magical roots as deep as those in Salem, Massachusetts. Every year, a witch convention is held in Veracruz, where spells are traded and magic is compared in dark and private ceremonies...

"Mara is not accused of any crimes, but police wanted to question her. They could not find her. Nor could police locate Damian the transvestite or Francisco the real estate speculator.

"Weeks later, when Omar was arrested, he too would speak of others who practiced black magic and sacrifice -sister groups of Constanzo's. He knew no details, though. Then Sara said something very similar at one of the big press conferences. 'I don't think that the religion will end with us, because it has a lot of people in it,' she said. 'They have found a temple in Monterrey that isn't even related to us. It will continue."
(Buried Secrets, Edward Humes, pgs. 404-405)
Even more notorious members of Constanzo's cult remain at large.
"Charged in both countries, Ovidio Hernandez, leader of the Hernandez drug operation once Elio was imprisoned, remains free, assisted by a network of contrabandistas and concunios. He had been seen in Chicago in early 1990, but eluded arrest. His father, Brigido Hernandez, wanted on drug and weapons charges, and the former ranch foreman, Aurelio Chavez, also are fugitives.

"Most bitter for the U.S. investigators has been Malio Fabio Ponce Torres's elusiveness. The alleged kidnapper of Mark Kilroy, released by mistake by the Cameron County Sheriff's Department, remained free, even though informants twice led DEA agents to him in Monterrey, Mexico, and later in the Yucatan Peninsula. Each time, El Gato managed to elude capture. Well-versed in the religion of Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, Mexican investigators believe he retrieved the nganga found to be missing from the room of the dead in Mexico City, then put it to use as a means of magically preserving his freedom."
(ibid, 398-399)
Here we bump into a major reoccurring theme in the saga of Constanzo: Police incompetence. The American authorities blew a chance to arrest Constanzo in Miami by announcing a tip they had received that he was heading there to the press. They failed in many other instances to apprehend members of the Constanzo cult when opportunities presented themselves. The Mexican authorities did not fair much better, stumbling upon the Constanzo cult initially via a routine road block that a member ran, and then later stumbling upon Constanzo himself when he began shooting at police in Mexico City with an Uzi when they weren't even looking for him. What's more, the Mexican authorities deliberately burned mounds of evidence at the Rancho Santa Elena in the name of performing a 'cleansing' of the place.

Rancho Santa Elena, and whatever evidence it stil lheld, being burned down
 One is left with the impression that police were almost intentionally trying to cover up the scope of Constanzo's crimes. Hell, if not for Serafin Hernandez running a police roadblock and leading them back to Rancho Santa Elena where weapons and narcotics were barely hidden, its hard to tell how long Constanzo's cult would have continued killing unfettered. As it stands, no one is really certain just how many people were killed by the cult, how many members were active in it, and if the cult was even ended with Constanzo's death.

Again I am reminded of Charles Manson. As I noted before in two prior blogs on Manson (which can be found here and here) local police had wanted to take Charlie down months before the Tate/La Bianca killing spree began. Certainly there were no lack of crimes to charge Manson with, especially statuary rape and drug possession. Yet authorities were prevented from doing their jobs until the Manson situation reached the point of no return.


I've already noted some other overlaps between Manson and Constanzo in parts four and five of this series, especially in their use of sex as a means of control and conditioning in regards to their followers. Both men were the heads of cults that were structured like extended families. Manson's cult was literally called the Family and he was referred to as father in the cult. Constanzo was el padrino -the godfather, in his cult. Both cults used drugs as a means of financial support. Manson's drug dealings are not generally reported upon in most mainstream sources, but by all accounts he was at least a mid-level dealer in the L.A. scene, possibly higher. Like Constanzo, he had connections to celebrities and various upper crust types.

A major difference between Manson and Constanzo were their views on drug use. Manson actively encouraged drug use in his cult as a means of controlling his followers. Constanzo was quite the opposite. While he had no problems selling drugs to the non-believers (who were no better than animals in his eyes) he instigated a strict zero tolerance penalty within his cult.
"...Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo wasn't an abuser of drugs. Neither were his followers. So rigid was Constanzo on this point that he killed one of his loyal minions for snorting a few lines of cocaine. Once they were arrested, neither Sara, nor Duby, nor any of the other suspects showed the slightest medical or psychological evidence of drug abuse or addiction. There were no needle marks on Constanzo's cadaver, no ravages of addiction on Martin's body. They killed sober and fully aware of what they were doing. And Constanzo and Martin died the same way -eyes open and unflinching, a bullet piercing Martin's left eye, but not his eyelid."
(ibid, pgs. 402-403)
On the other hand, Constanzo's cult was much more violent than Manson's from the get go. Beginning with animal sacrifices and soon working their way up to humans, blood and killing were regular fixtures of Constanzo's cult from the beginning. The Family would take longer to make it to that point. It seems these rituals of terror that Constanzo subjected his followers to, especially the the human sacrifices, were his primary means of breaking their will and tying them to Constanzo and the cult. Seemingly this was a much more effective method than pumping them full of LSD, as Manson did.

Jim Jones is another figure Constanzo compares well too. Both men were Americans that would lead cults in Latin America to bloody ends. Both men were bisexual and would use sex as a means of control over their followers. Both men attempted to invoke a sense of family within their cults. Like Manson, Jones was referred to as 'father' while Constanzo was 'godfather.' Jones, like both Manson and Constanzo, would strive for contacts amongst the upper crust and law enforcement. There were warning signs that Jones was seriously unhinged before Jonestown, yet American authorities did little to nothing to stop him, not unlike Manson and Constanzo. There is no evidence that Jones ever ordered his followers to kill anyone before the Ryan ambush, but several Peoples Temple members died under mysterious circumstances over the years before the Kool-Aid was handed out in Jonestown.

Jim Jones

Finally, there is ample evidence all three men adopted radical religious systems as a means of controlling their followers. In the case of both Manson and Jones, this system seems to have been based upon Nazi-tinged Gnosticism.
"...Jones began to speak of revolution, and of Jesus as a socialist. He began to gradually mock and vilify the God of the Jews, the 'Sky God' as he called him, and to identify Jehovah with satanic forces bent on the destruction of humanity. It was pure neo-Nazism, except it was so convoluted that most of his followers would never have recognized it for what it was... the Nazi ideologists of the Third Reich had reinterpreted the bible in such a way that the God of the Israelites was Satan. This has become standard theology in such racist organizations in America as the Christian Identity movement.

"Lucifer was the 'light-bringer,' and intent on delivering humanity from the clutches of the evil Jehovah. This is also a Gnostic belief, as demonstrated in the scriptures uncovered at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945. In this system, the Serpent in the Garden of Eden was the true God, who wanted to deliver the human race from the blind Creator God, the Demiurge who wanted Adam and Eve as his personal slaves...

"This multiplicity of gods with Biblical genealogy is what gave rise to the theology of the Process Church of the Final Judgement... This form of Gnosticism also influenced Charles Manson, and he began to identify himself with Abraxas, a famous Gnostic deity whose numerological equivalent is 365, the same as the number of days in the year and thus representative of time itself. With the Nazis, the neo-Nazis, and the Christian Identity movement in the United States, Europe, and Latin America, we are experiencing a strange resurrection of first and second century Gnosticism: Gnosticism with a vengeance."
(Sinister Forces Book II, Peter Levenda, pg. 175)


Crowley disciple Kenneth Grant associated the Gnostics with the Sirius tradition.
"The withdrawal of the genuine Magical Tradition occurred when the Gnostics, the true pre-Christian Christians, were stifled by the forgers of 'historic' Christianity. A certain amount of the original Gnosis is preserved in Talmudic and Rabbinical lore but, generally speaking, the Jews, like the Greeks and Christians, did all in their power to distort and destroy all traces of the original Current."
(The Magical Revival, Kenneth Grant, pg. 70)
The references to Nazism are especially interesting in relation to another cult, the one based out of Chile's infamous Colonia Dignidad (Colony of Dignity), that I covered in part one of this series. This cult was headed by the ex-Nazi Paul Schafer, and consisted almost entirely of German citizens. Many of the rank and file were kept at the Colony against their will and were used essentially as slave labor. Elaborate techniques of torture were used and the Colony even featured interrogation cells. Some of the Colony members had been abducted from Germany as children and were molested by Schafer. Author Peter Levenda, who traveled to the Colony in the late 1970s, strongly believed that Nazi occultism was practiced by the cult and that it was seemingly based off of the Gnostic 'Current' that was spreading across the world at the time.

Colonia Dignidad

Whether Constanzo was aware of this 'Current' or not is impossible to determine. But Manson and Jones, individuals with objectives and followings similar to Constanzo, did seemingly embrace a kind of Gnosticism in their cults.

There is one final connection I would now like to address in regards to the Constanzo cult and those of Manson and Jones. And that is a possible connection all three men had to the CIA. I will once again refer the reader back to my prior blogs on Manson, which can be found here and here; as well as those on Jones, located here and here. The CIA connections of both men are discussed in great length in those pieces. Here I will only briefly discuss their handlers.

Manson's seems to have been the enigmatic Ronald Stark, an individual whom an Italian court ruled had been in the employee of the American secret services since 1960. Stark was also a major drug trafficker who took over supplying the legendary Brotherhood of Eternal Love in the late 1960s and continued trafficking all over the world long after that organization was defunct. As noted previously, the Manson Family were drug dealers in the L.A. area. Several sources have placed Stark as Manson's supplier. Some have even speculated that the Tate/La Bianca killings were drug related and that Stark may have factored into the decision process behind the murders. For more on Stark, check here. Needless to say, the relationship between Manson and Stark is highly contested by mainstream sources.

Ronad Stark

The same cannot be said of Jones and the man commonly suspected of being his handler, Dan Mitrione. Mitrione was a police officer, FBI agent, and eventual 'advisor' to the CIA in Latin America. Mitrione has been described as a kind of interrogation 'specialist' who was himself eventually tortured to death in Uruguay. While its rarely mentioned in mainstream sources, Jones and Mitrione had known each other since Jones was a teenager and remained in contact until the latter's death.


Constanzo had his own curious CIA link. In part four of this series I told the reader to remember the name of Florentino Ventura Gutierrez, a Federal Judicial Police agent who became a member of Constanzo's cult in the mid-1980s and helped him break into the drug racket. It was Gutierrez who introduced Constanzo to the Calzada cartel, the leadership of which would eventually be sacrificed by Constanzo on Walpurgis Night. Gutierrez was an interesting individual.
"Constanzo's biggest coup, however, involved no such extravaganzas, just straight fortune telling and cleansing. And it came from an entirely different sector than the show-business clients, in the form of a crusty veteran Mexican policeman named Florentino Ventura Gutierrez.

"Ventura had been primer comandante of the Mexican Federal Judicial Police -the equivalent of FBI director in the United States. In 1985, he had become director of the Mexican branch of Interpol, the European-based international criminal investigation organization, making him one of the most powerful lawmen in Mexico. Respected by many U.S. drug enforcement agents for his tough stance against smugglers, he also had extensive contacts with the CIA. He was a natural cold-war asset for the U.S. intelligence community in Mexico City, where there were more KGB agents than an city outside the Warsaw Pact. The Soviet agents found the Mexican capital a perfect base of operations, a city close to the United States where the government imposed no restrictions on communist agents. Consequently, the CIA vies constantly with the KGB for the loyalties of certain influential Mexicans."
(Buried Secrets, Edward Humes, pg. 115)

Bottom right is apparently the real life Ventura

Gutierrez would shepherd Constanzo's rise in the drug smuggling world while simultaneously protecting him from Mexican police. Their relationship would last all the way up to Gutierrez's death in September 1988. Gutierrez allegedly killed himself in addition to his wife and a friend in the same burst of gunfire. Less than nine months after Gutierrez's death Constanzo would be dead and his cult in ruins. Is it possible that Gutierrez was Constanzo's handler? If Mexico City was truly as riddled with KGB agents as Humes claims then a man with Constanzo's 'talents' may have come in handy. If this sounds outlandish, keep in mind that this is the same agency that recruited men such as Klaus Barbie, Otto Skorzeny, and Lucky Luciano. In the company of such men, Constanzo would have simply been one of the boys.

Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, yet another tool in the CIA's Cold War arsenal

Thus, we have three prominent cult leaders, all of whom with ties to the CIA. Were the Manson and Constanzo cults and the Peoples Temple part of some broader organization or experiment? A most unlikely source alluded to this very possibility: the notorious serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, who was indicted in 189 cases of murder at one point. In actuality Lucas, a former drifter, has only been linked with eleven killings, though law enforcement have often speculated that that total could be much higher. After being arrested Henry claimed that he and his partner Ottis Toole were contract killers for a nation wide satanic cult known as the Hand of Death. Though Lucas's claims were widely dismissed when initially made, authorities were forced to reevaluate them (if only briefly) when news of the Constanzo cult broke.
"One of the more compelling aspects of Henry's story was his contention that he had ties to cult-run ranches just south of the U.S. border. In 1989, just such a ranch was excavated in Matamoros, Mexico -just south of Brownsville, Texas -yielding the remains of fifteen ritual sacrifice victims. The Matamoros case so closely paralleled the stories told years earlier by Lucas that some law enforcement personnel in Texas chose to take a closer look at Henry's professed cult connections. In fact, Jim Boutwell -the sheriff of Williamson County, Texas -later told a reporter that investigators had verified that Lucas was indeed involved in cult activities.
"Following the discovery in Matamoros, Clemmie Schroeder -identified as Henry's spiritual adviser -sent to the state attorney general a map Lucas had drawn for her in 1985 that identified locations where murder, kidnapping and drug-running operations were conducted. She told a reporter for the Brownsville Herald: 'Henry told me there were a lot of different cults in Mexico who were involved in satanic worship and everything. I found the map and realized he had marked this cult and drug ring near Brownsville.' The attorney general's office chose not to take action."
(Programmed to Kill, David McGowan, pg. 88)

Henry Lee Lucas (left) and his partner, Ottis Toole

Of course the Matamoros area was not the only region Lucas claimed the Hand of Death was active. He placed another killing ranch just outside of the notorious city of Juarez where hundreds (if not thousands) of women have been murdered since 1993, some with ritualistic overtones. A decade after Constanzo's reign of terror ended another ranch with mass graves was discovered at Juarez precisely where Henry's map had indicated a cult center.
"After a decade had passed... yet another excavation was begun, at a ranch near Juarez, Mexico. That property was, strangely enough, located precisely where Henry Lee Lucas had claimed that the 'Hand of Death' cult maintained a ranch. The first reports on the Juarez ranch surfaced on December 1, 1999... a Los Angeles Times report noted that the 'clanestine burial grounds [were] practically within sight of the U.S. border.'
"Early reports indicated that authorities anticipated exhuming between 100 and 300 bodies from mass graves on the ranch, including twenty-two missing U.S. citizens and a number of former FBI and DEA informants. The investigation was quickly expanded to include at least three more possible burial grounds in the area..."
(ibid, pgs. 91-92)

Memorials to the dead women of Juarez

Once U.S. authorities took over the 1999 investigation of the Juarez ranch the body total dropped from at least 100 to only nine victims. Truly, the inter-agency work of the Mexican and U.S. authorities must be a thing to behold. Needless to say, if there is any truth to Henry's map, then we are left with many troubling questions.

Was Constanzo's cult part of a nation wide order? Was it linked to the Manson Family and the Peoples Temple? Are the murders now happening in Juarez also tied in with the Constanzo, Manson and Jones cults in some way? And if so, were all these organizations being controlled by the CIA? And if so, to what purpose? As a sociological or mind control experiment? As an act of terrorism? To corner the drug trade and escalate the Cold War? Any of these explanations are of course possible and there are even more scenarios I haven't covered. All we can be sure of is that there is much in the Constanzo saga that does not jive with mainstream accounts, as per usual. One thing that is certain is that there's more to Constanzo and his cult than what we were told.

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