Santa Muerta is featured on the cover of my first thriller, The Middle Eye (above)
Santa Muerta, the Saint of Death, accompanied Juana Romero Reyes, 41, as she tried to smuggle more than $1.2 million in cocaine through the El Paso, Texas ports of entry on September 16. She was wearing two necklaces with pendants of Santa Muerta under her clothes. The saint is revered among drug smugglers for protection from death itself. Santa Muerta, generally depicted as a robed skeleton, wears a mask, and has a growing number of worshippers, such as housewives, the unemployed and the sick, as well as Mexico’s gang members. Her likeness can be purchased in cities on both sides of the border.
After an x-ray scan U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers allegedly found 15 packages of cocaine in the spare tire of Romero’s vehicle. The packages weighed 39 pounds.
Officials reported that a drug sniffing dog named, “Cesar” alerted them to Romero’s Dodge Durango, as she waited in line to cross the border at the Bridge of the Americas. Romero’s fate will probably be like the hundreds of other female mules who find themselves incarcerated in the El Paso County Jail awaiting trial. No one from Mexico shows up to help the women.
I know this because I’ve visited the jail and seen them languishing in their cells awaiting hearing, trial and sentencing. It’s one of the border’s dirty little secrets. Romero has allegedly risked her future for a few hundred dollars. Will anyone care what happens to her in the ensuing months? Probably not.