Adolfo de Jesús Constanzo (November 1, 1962
– May 6, 1989) was a serial killer and cult leader in Mexico. His
nickname was The Godfather of Matamoros.
Constanzo was born in Miami, Florida, United States.
His mother, Delia Aurora González del Valle, was a widowed Cuban
immigrant. She gave birth to him when she was 15 years old, and she
would eventually have three children in total, each with a different
father. She moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico, after her first husband
died, and re-married. While in San Juan, Constanzo was baptized Roman
Catholic and served as an altar boy, but he was also influenced by his
mother's participation in Palo mayombe. The family returned to Miami
in 1972, and his stepfather died soon after, leaving the family with
some money. His mother soon re-married, and his new stepfather was
involved in the local drug trade and the occult.
Both Costanzo and his mother were arrested several
times for petty crimes, such as theft, vandalism, and shoplifting. He
graduated from high school, but he dropped out of junior college. His
mother believed that he had psychic abilities for supposedly
predicting the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan in 1981. As a
teenager, he befriended a Haitian Palo mayombe priest who taught him
the skills necessary to be a drug dealer and con artist, training him
for a career "profiting from evil."
Costanzo visited Mexico City in 1983, supporting
himself as a tarot card reader. There, he recruited two younger men;
Martín Quintana Rodríguez and Omar Chewe Orea Ochoa to be his servants,
lovers and disciples. Constanzo returned to Miami shortly thereafter,
but he moved to Mexico City in mid-1984. Over the next few years he
was the leader of a full-fledged cult with drug dealers, musicians and
even police officers under his command. The cult, based in Matamoros,
Tamaulipas, on the U.S.-Mexico border, sold drugs, held high-priced
occult ceremonies and by at least 1987 murdered people for use in
human sacrifices. These victims fell along with the cult's rivals in
When an American tourist, 21-year-old Mark Kilroy,
disappeared in Matamoros during Spring Break 1989, local police,
facing pressures from Texas authorities, began to search in earnest
for him. They discovered Costanzo's cult quite by accident (in an
unrelated drug investigation) and, after arresting some of the members,
quickly discovered the that they were responsible for Kilroy's murder,
whose body had been dismembered and burned.
More and more of the cult's members were arrested
until, on May 6, they had cornered Costanzo and four of his followers,
two of whom were his male lovers, in a dilapidated Mexico City
apartment. Determined not to go to prison, Costanzo ordered one of the
disciples to shoot him and Quintana Rodríguez. They were both dead
when the police finally broke in.
One of Constanzo's most trusted leaders within his
cult, Sara María Aldrete, was arrested not long after his death. She
was sentenced to a total of 68 years in prison for her involvement in
the cult and the murders.
Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo
Miami-born on November 1, 1962, Adolfo Constanzo was
the son of a teenaged Cuban immigrant. He was still an infant when his
widowed mother moved to Puerto Rico and acquired a second husband. There,
Adolfo was baptized a Catholic and served the church as an altar boy,
appearing to accept the standard tenets of the Roman faith. He was ten
years old when the family moved back to Miami, and his stepfather died a
year later, leaving Adolfo and his mother financially well-off.
By that time, neighbors in Little Havana had begun to
notice something odd about Aurora Constanzo and her son. Some said the
woman was a witch, and those who angered her were likely to discover
headless goats or chickens on their doorsteps in the morning. Adolfos
mother had introduced him to the santeria cult around age nine, with
side trips from Puerto Rico to Haiti for instruction in voodoo, but
there were still more secrets to be learned, and in 1976 he was
apprenticed to a practitioner of palo mayombe.
His occult godfather was
already rich from working with local drug dealers, and he imparted a
philosophy that would follow Adolfo to his grave: Let the non-believers
kill themselves with drugs. We will profit from their foolishness.
Around the same time, Constanzos mother recalls that
her oldest son began displaying psychic powers, scanning the future to
predict such events as the 1981 shooting of President Ronald Reagan. Be
that as it may, Adolfo had problems foretelling his own future,
including two 1981 arrests for shoplifting -- one involving the theft of
a chainsaw. On the side, he had also begun to display bisexual
inclinations, with a strong preference for male lovers. A modeling
assignment took the handsome young sorcerer to Mexico City in 1983, and
he spent his free time telling fortunes with tarot cards in the citys
infamous Zona Rosa.
Before returning to Miami, Adolfo collected his
first Mexican disciples, including Martin Quintana, homosexual psychic
Jorge Montes, and Omar Orea, obsessed with the occult from age fifteen.
In short order, Constanzo seduced both a young Latino Rodriguez and
Orea, claiming one as his man and the other as his woman, depending on
Adolfos romantic whim.
In mid-1984, Constanzo moved to Mexico City
full-time, seeking what his mother called new horizons. He shared
quarters with Quintana and Orea in a strange ménage ŕ trois,
collecting other followers as his magic reputation spread throughout the
city. It was said that Constanzo could read the future, and he also
offered limpias--ritual cleansings--for those who felt they had been
cursed by enemies.
Of course, it all cost money, and Constanzos journals,
recovered after his death, document thirty-one regular customers, some
paying up to $4,500 for a single ceremony. Adolfo established a menu for
sacrificial beasts, with roosters going for $6 a head, goats for $30,
boa constrictors at $450, adult zebras for $1,100, and African lion cubs
listed at $3,100 each. True to the teachings of his Florida mentor,
Constanzo went out of his way to charm wealthy drug dealers, helping
them schedule shipments and meetings on the basis of his predictions.
For a price, he offered magic that would make dealers and their hit men
invisible to police, bulletproof against their enemies. It was all
nonsense, of course, but smugglers drawn from Mexican peasant stock,
with a background in brujeria, were strongly inclined to believe.
According to Constanzos ledgers, one dealer in Mexico City paid him
$40,000 for magical services rendered over three years time. At those
rates, the customers demanded a show, and Constanzo recognized the folly
of disappointing men who carried Uzi submachine guns in their armor-plated
limousines. Strong medicine required first-rate ingredients, and Adolfo
was rolling by mid-1985, when he and three of his disciples raided a
Mexico City graveyard for human bones to start his own nganga--the
traditional cauldron of blood employed by practitioners of palo mayombe.
The rituals and air of mystery surrounding Constanzo were powerful
enough to lure a cross section of Mexican society, with his clique of
disciples including a physician, a real estate speculator, fashion
models, and several transvestite nightclub performers.
At first glance, the most peculiar aspect of
Constanzos new career was the appeal he seemed to have for ranking law
enforcement officers. At least four members of the Federal Judicial
Police joined Constanzos cult in Mexico City: one of them, Salvador
Garcia, was a commander in charge of narcotics investigations; another,
Florentino Ventura, retired from the federales to lead the Mexican
branch of Interpol.
In a country where bribery --mordida-- permeates all
levels of law enforcement and federal officers sometimes serve as
trigger men for drug smugglers, corruption is not unusual, but the
devotion of Constanzos followers ran deeper than cash on the line. In or
out of uniform, they worshipped Adolfo as a minor god in his own right,
their living conduit to the spirit world.
In 1986, Florentino Ventura introduced Constanzo to
the drug-dealing Calzada family, then one of Mexicos dominant narcotics
cartels. Constanzo won the hard-nosed dealers over with his charm and
mumbo-jumbo, profiting immensely from his contacts with the gang. By
early 1987, he was able to pay $60,000 cash for a condominium in Mexico
City, buying himself a fleet of luxury cars that included an $80,000
Mercedes Benz. When not working magic for the Calzadas or other clients,
Adolfo staged scams of his own, once posing as a DEA agent to rip off a
coke dealer in Guadalajara, selling the stash through his police
contacts for a cool $100,000. At some point in his odyssey from juvenile
psychic to high- society witch, Constanzo began to feed his nganga with
the offering of human sacrifice. No final tally for his victims is
available, but twenty-three ritual murders are well documented, and
Mexican authorities point to a rash of unsolved mutilation-slayings
around Mexico City and elsewhere, suggesting that Constanzos known
victims may only represent the tip of a malignant iceberg.
In any case,
his willingness to torture and kill total strangers-- along with close
friends--duly impressed the ruthless drug dealers who remained his
foremost clients. In the course of a years association, Constanzo came
to believe that his magical powers alone were responsible for the
Calzada familys continued success and survival. In April 1987, he
demanded a full partnership in the syndicate and was curtly refused. On
the surface. Constanzo seemed to take the rejection in stride, but his
devious mind was working overtime, plotting revenge.
On April 30, Guillermo Calzada and six members of his
household vanished under mysterious circumstances. They were reported
missing on May 1, police noting melted candles and other evidence of a
strange religious ceremony at Calzadas office. Six more days elapsed
before officers began fishing mutilated remains from the Zumpango River.
Seven corpses were recovered in the course of a week, all bearing marks
of sadistic torture--fingers, toes, and ears removed, hearts and sex
organs excised, part of the spine ripped from one body, two others
missing their brains. The vanished parts, as it turned out, had gone to
feed Constanzos cauldron of blood, building up his strength for greater
conquests yet to come.
In July 1987, Salvador Garcia introduced Constanzo to
another drug-running family, this one led by brothers Elio and Ovidio
At the end of that month, in Matamoros, Constanzo had also
met 22-year-old Sara Aldrete, a Mexican national with resident alien
status in the United States, where she attended college in Brownsville,
Texas. Adolfo charmed Sara with his line of patter, noting with arch
significance that her birthday--September 6--was the same as his
mothers. Sara was dating Brownsville drug smuggler Gilberto Sosa at the
time, but she soon wound up in Constanzos bed, Adolfo scuttling the old
relationship with an anonymous call to Sosa, revealing Saras infidelity.
With nowhere else to turn, Sara plunged full-tilt into Constanzos world,
emerging as the madrina--godmother or head witch--of his cult, adding
her own twists to the torture of sacrificial victims.
Constanzos rituals became more elaborate and sadistic
after he moved his headquarters to a plot of desert called Rancho Santa
Elena, twenty miles from Matamoros. There, on May 28, 1988, drug dealer
Hector de la Fuente and farmer Moises Castillo were executed by gunfire,
but the sacrifice was a disappointment to Constanzo. Back in Mexico
City, he directed his drones to dismember a transvestite, Ramon
Esquivel, and dump his grisly remains on a public street corner. His
luck was holding, and Constanzo narrowly escaped when Houston police
raided a drug house in June 1988, seizing numerous items of occult
paraphernalia and the citys largest-ever shipment of cocaine.
On August 12, Ovidio Hernandez and his two-year-old
son were kidnapped by rival narcotics dealers, the family turning to
Constanzo for help. That night, another human sacrifice was staged at
Rancho Santa Elena, and the hostages were released unharmed on August
13, Adolfo claiming full credit for their safe return. His star was
rising, and Constanzo barely noticed when Florentino Ventura committed
suicide in Mexico City on September 17, taking his wife and a friend
with him in the same burst of gunfire.
In November 1988, Constanzo sacrificed disciple Jorge
Gomez, accused of snorting cocaine in direct violation of el padrinos
ban on drug use.
A month later, Adolfos ties with the Hernandez family
were cemented with the initiation of Ovidio Hernandez as a full-fledged
cultist, complete with ritual bloodletting and prayers to the nganga.
Human sacrifice can also have its practical side, as when competing
smuggler Ezequiel Luna was tortured to death at Rancho Santa Elena, on
February 14, 1989; two other dealers--Ruben Garza and Ernesto
Diaz--wandered into the ceremony uninvited and promptly wound up on the
menu. Conversely, Adolfo sometimes demanded a sacrifice on the spur of
the moment, without rhyme or reason. When he called for fresh meat on
February 25, Ovidio Hernandez gladly joined the hunting party, picking
off his own 14-year-old cousin, Jose Garcia, in the heat of the moment.
On March 13, 1989, Constanzo sacrificed yet another
victim at the ranch, gravely disappointed when his prey did not scream
and plead for mercy in the approved style. Disgruntled, he ordered an
Anglo for the next ritual, and his minions fanned out with their noses
to the ground, abducting 21-year-old Mark Kilroy outside a Matamoros
saloon. The sacrifice went well enough, followed two weeks later by the
butchery of Sara Aldretes old boyfriend, Gilberto Sosa, but Kilroys
disappearance marked the beginning of the end for Constanzos homicidal
A popular pre-med student from Texas, Mark Kilroy was
not some peasant, transvestite, or small-time pusher who could disappear
without a trace or an investigation into his fate. With family members
and Texas politicians turning up the heat, the search for Kilroy rapidly
assumed the trappings of an international incident ... but it would be
Constanzos own disciples who destroyed him in the end.
By late March 1989, Mexican authorities were busy with
one of their periodic anti-drug campaigns, erecting roadblocks on a
whim and sweeping the border districts for unwary smugglers. On April 1,
Victor Sauceda, an ex-cop turned gangster, was sacrificed at the ranch,
and the spirit message Constanzo received was optimistic enough for his
troops to move a half-ton of marijuana across the border seven nights
later. And then, the magic started to unravel.
On April 9, returning from a Brownsville, Texas,
meeting with Constanzo, cultist Serafin Hernandez drove past a police
road-block without stopping, ignoring the cars that set off in hot
pursuit. Hernandez believed el padrinos line about invisibility, and he
seemed surprised when officers trailed him to his destination in
Matamoros. Even so, the smuggler was arrogant, inviting police to shoot
him, since the bullets would merely bounce off.
They arrested him instead, along with cult member
David Martinez, and drove the pair back to Rancho Santa Elena, where a
preliminary search turned up marijuana and firearms. Disciples Elio
Hernandez and Sergio Martinez stumbled into the net while police were on
hand, and all four prisoners were interrogated through the evening,
revealing their tales of black magic, torture, and human sacrifice with
a perverse kind of pride.
Next morning, police returned to the ranch in force,
discovering the malodorous shed where Constanzo kept his nganga,
brimming with blood, spiders, scorpions, a dead black cat, a turtle
shell, bones, deer antlers ... and a human brain. Captive cult members
directed searchers to Constanzos private cemetery, and excavation began,
revealing fifteen mutilated corpses by April 16. In addition to Mark
Kilroy and other victims already named, the body count included two
renegade federal narcotics officers--Joaquin Manzo and Miguel
Garcia--along with three men who were never identified.
The hunt for Constanzo was on, and police raided his
luxury home at Atizapan, outside Mexico City, on April 17, discovering
stockpiles of gay pornography and a hidden ritual chamber.
discoveries at Rancho Santa Elena made international headlines, and
sightings of Constanzo were reported as far away as Chicago, but in
fact, he had already returned to Mexico City, hiding out in a small
apartment with Sara Aldrete and three other disciples. On May 2,
thinking to save herself, Sara tossed a note out the window. It read:
Please call the judicial police and tell them that in this building are
those that they are seeking. Give them the address, fourth floor. Tell
them that a woman is being held hostage. I beg for this, because what I
want most is to talk--or theyre going to kill the girl.
A passerby found the note and kept it to himself,
believing it to be someones lame attempt at humor. On May 6, neighbors
called police to complain of a loud, vulgar argument in Constanzos
apartment--some say, accompanied by gunshots. As patrolmen arrived on
the scene, Constanzo opened fire with an Uzi, touching off a 45-minute
battle in which, miraculously, only one policeman was wounded.
When Constanzo realized that escape was impossible, he
handed his weapon to cultist Alvaro de Leon Valdez--a professional hit
man nicknamed El Duby-- with bizarre new orders. As El Duby recalls the
scene: He told me to kill him and Martin [Quintana]. I told him I
couldnt do it, but he hit me in the face and threatened me that
everything would go bad for me in hell. Then he hugged Martin, and I
just stood in front of them and shot them with a machine gun.
Constanzo and Quintana were dead when police stormed
the apartment, arresting El Duby and Sara Aldrete. In the aftermath of
the raid, fourteen cultists were indicted on various charges, including
multiple murder, weapons and narcotics violations, conspiracy, and
obstruction of justice. In August 1990, El Duby was convicted of killing
Constanzo and Quintana, drawing a 30-year prison term. Cultists Juan
Fragosa and Jorge Montes were both convicted in the Ramon Esquivel
murder and sentenced to 35 years each; Omar Orea, convicted in the same
case, died of AIDS before he could be sentenced. Sara Aldrete was
acquitted of Constanzos murder but sentenced to a six-year term on
conviction of criminal association. She was nearing the end of that
sentence, in 1994, when her long-delayed trial on multiple murder
charges brought another conviction and a 60-year prison term.
Police in Mexico are still uncertain of Constanzos
final body count, some officers trying to clear every ritualistic murder
on the books by posthumously blaming Constanzo. On the other hand, in
June 1989, Martin Quintanas sister told police that Adolfos first
madrina was still at large, practicing her blood magic in Guadalajara.
And from jail, before he died, Omar Orea said, I don think that the
religion will end with us, because it has a lot of people in it. They
have found a temple in Monterrey that isnt even related to us. It will