New reports indicate the murder of two female journalists in Mexico City in September was carried out by a group of Santeria followers, the voodoo-influenced religion.
Online magazine Reporte Indigo, which had access to the investigation, claims Marcela Yarce, 45, and Rocio Gonzalez, 48, were strangled to death after they sought to exchange pesos for dollars with Óscar Jair Quiñonez Emmert, alias “Ogún”, who worked in a parking establishment in downtown Mexico City, near the offices of the magazine Contralinea, where Yarce worked.
The men are reported to have beaten and killed the two women in order to steal one million pesos (5,700 GBP), which the pair wanted to exchange for US dollars. Exchange rates have been fluctuating in Mexico, and according to police reports, the two women wanted a better rate. Both bodies were found nude and there was evidence of sexual assault.
Contralinea replied angrily to the release of the police report, charging that it did double damage to the memory of the two murdered journalists because it implied they had engaged in illegal activities.
According to the magazine report Emmert confessed to the murder. He told the Public Ministry of the Attorney General of the Federal Distritct how he contacted a group of Santeria followers to help him round up the women. The group included his “godfather” or padrino, Lázaro Hernández, known in the world of Santeria as “El Padrino Laza” and his 16-year-old son. The crime was committed on 31 August, when the women contacted Emmert to complete the financial transaction. After the murders, the group of men had a spiritual bath with herbs to get rid of negative vibrations, according to the court records. The men divided the loot and spent it on cars, a sound system, mobile phones and a family vacation in the resort town of Mazatlan.
Santeria is on the rise in Mexico, in the last decade it has begun to overtake traditional shamanism that dates from ancient Mexico. While the rites appeal to Mexicans of all walks of life, many of its followers are youths from a low-income background who wear santeria beads as a necklace or a bracelet.