Since the end of the second World War Latin America has become something of a playground for the Cryptocracy. Cults, medical experiments, UFOs, drugs, Nazi war criminals, and the like have been in abundance in this region of the world in an especially bizarre fashion for over a half century. The isolation of many parts of Latin America coupled with its close proximity to the United States are a big reason for this. I also suspect that its potent mixture of religious practices make it an especially fertile region for PSYOPs.
The 'New World', being in relative isolation from the Old, maintained some very ancient religions practices up to the time of the arrival of the Spanish. Even then ancient native American rituals, such as those involving entheogens, continued to be practiced amongst isolated tribes up to modern times. Into this stew was then added African folk traditions courtesy of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in addition to Catholic mysticism and European occultism. Some nations are even more diverse - Brazil features the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, for instance. Naturally, their religious practices followed.
Nine for some very artistocratic families, managed to make several pilgrimages to Latin America in the 1950s and 60s. During the first, in 1956, Puharich was accompanied by the Dutch psychic Peter Hurkos and the enigmatic inventor, paranormal enthusiast, and possible US intelligence asset Arthur Young (much more on Puharich and Young can be found here and here). Hurkos described the visit as an archaeological project but many believe that these men were in fact searching for the mushroom cults that had inspired some R. Gordon Wasson's theories on the role of the magic mushroom in religion. Puharich himself would go on to author a book on the magic mushroom called The Sacred Mushroom a few years later.
Arigo. Also in Brazil in 1962 was the notorious Nazi war criminal Joseph 'the Angel of Death' Mengele, the 'medical doctor' of Auschwitz, living in a farm house 93 miles from Sao Paulo. There were many other Nazis living in South America at the time, as it was one of the main destinations of the infamous ratlines. Mengele had been living in Argentina previously, near Adolf Eichmann, until the former Holocaust organizer was arrested in 1960. Other Nazis were much more fortunate, such as Klaus Barbie, the 'Butcher of Lyons', who was able to establish himself in Bolivia as a US intelligence asset, a Lt. Col in the Bolivian Intelligence apparatus, gun runner, and eventual drug lord.
hoax would pop up in Argentina in the late 1970s, operating out of a facility specializing in cancer cures brought about by a 'highly sophisticated electronic equipment.' Curiously, researchers such as Jacques Vallee have argued that the UMMO hoax, which was mainly perpetuated in Spain and France, was based upon a short story called "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" by the legendary Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, which was written around 1940. Regardless, the legacy of UFOs in South America is certainly the most bizarre I've encountered in modern accounts. For a sample of this high strangeness, check out this old post I wrote on entheogens.
By the far the most famous of these communities was Jonestown of Guyana, South America. I shall delve much more deeply into Jonestown in a little bit, but would like to mention a few other such communities that never gained the notoriety of Jonestown for lack of 'revoltionary suicide,' as the media hailed it. One such community was Hilltown, also of Guyana, and closely linked to Jonestown. Guyana was a country, in part due to its close proximity to Brazil, that would become a key piece of the CIA's Cold War agenda in South America.
"It was then that British Guiana saw the first stirrings for independence. A Marxist dentist, Dr. Cheddi Jagan, an East Indian educated in America, founded the People's Progressive party, which quickly assumed power under colonial rule. Jagan was assisted in the drive by a brilliant British-educated Afro-Guyanese barrister named Linden Forbes Burnham. Within several years, however, Burnham broke with Jagan to form his won party, the People's National Congress.
"With the Cold War and the Cuban revolution to the north, the United States was absolutely determined not to let another 'domino' fall in the Caribbean. So it entered the power struggle in obscure Guiana. Burnham had a more opportunistic side than the more doctrinaire Jagan, whose pro-Soviet sympathies were no secret. When the Central Intelligence Agency injected $1 million into labor unions to finance street disturbances, enough internal instability was created that Forbes Burnham toppled Jagan in 1964.
"Two years later, Burnham announced independence, and two years after that, in 1968, his party swept the elections. Burnham became prime minister. On February 23, 1970, the country became known as the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. To the surprise of the CIA, Burnham moved his country on a socialist path, flirting with Castro, the Soviets, the East Germans, and North Koreans, and nationalizing most of the country's resources, including sugar, rice and bauxite, of which it is the world's fourth largest producer..."
(Raven, Tim Reiterman, pgs. 272-273)
"...One was Rabbi Edward Washington [an allias used by Hill - Recluse], an ex-convict from Cleveland, Ohio, who managed to persuade several hundred Afro-Guyanese that blacks were the original Jews. His House of Israel became a political enforcement arm of the Burnham regime. The organization broadcast a weekly radio show on the government-owned radio station in Georgetown, a sure sign of official favor. Another group that would get a weekly radio show was Peoples Temple."Ah, but there was so much more to the good Rabbi Washington/Hill.
(ibid, pg. 273)
"Inside Guyana itself, approximately 25 miles to the south of Mathew's Bridge, is a community called Hilltown, named after religious leader Rabbi Hill. Hill has used the names Abraham Israel and Rabbi Emmanuel Washington. Hilltown, set up about the same time as Jonestown, followed the departure of David Hill, who was known in Cleveland, a fugitive of the US. courts. Hill rules with an 'iron fist' over some 8,000 Black people from Guyana and America who believe they are the Lost Tribe of Israel and the real Hebrews of Biblical prophecy. Used as strong-arm troops, and 'internal mercenaries' to insure Burnham's election, as were Jonestown members, the Hilltown people were allowed to clear the Jonestown site of shoes and unused weapons, both in short supply in Guyana. Hill says his followers would gladly kill themselves at his command but he would survive, since, unlike Jones, he is 'in control.'The House of Israel eventually fell out of favor in Guyana, but not before over a decade of terror was inflicted on the nation:
(Secret and Suppressed, John Judge, pgs. 141-142)
"During the 1970s and 1980s, a religious group known as the House of Israel became an informal part of the PNC's security apparatus and engaged in actions such as strikebreaking, pro-government demonstrations, political intimidation, and murder. The House of Israel was led by an ardent PNC supporter, David Hill, locally known as Rabbi Washington. Hill was an American fugitive wanted for blackmail, larceny, and tax evasion. Despite its name, the House of Israel was neither Israeli nor Jewish-oriented. It was, instead, a black supremacist cult claiming that Afro-Guyanese were the original Hebrews. Cult adherents further believed that modern-day Jews were, in fact, descendants of other non-Jewish biblical peoples and were in Israel illegally. Serving as a paramilitary force for the PNC, the House of Israel had 8,000 members, including a 300-member guard force known as the 'royal cadets.'regime after the first democratically elected Marxist president of Latin America, Salvador Allende, was removed and assassinated during a military coup in the early 1970s. This community, which would become a close alley of the Pinochet regime, was known as Colonia Dignidad. Like Jonestown, it was described as an an agricultural experiment and headed by a controversial minister.
"A 1979 incident illustrates the House of Israel's close relationship with the Burnham administration. A member of the cult, Bilal Ato, murdered a reporter working for an opposition newspaper on July 14, 1979. The reporter had been taking photographs of an anti-government demonstration when he was stabbed to death. Although the entire incident was filmed by other journalists, the government took three years to bring the case to trial. A former state prosecutor defended Ato. The judge reduced Ato's charge to manslaughter and sentenced him to eight years in prison.
"Later in 1979, as well as during the early and mid-1980s, the government used the House of Israel to break strikes and to disrupt public meetings of any group that the government felt might oppose its policies. Observers claimed that House of Israel members were accompanied by police and sometimes wore police uniforms during these incidents. In 1985 House of Israel members allegedly prevented delegates from entering the annual general meeting of the Guyana Council of Churches in Georgetown.
"When President Hugh Desmond Hoyte took power in 1985, the House of Israel fell out of government favor. In July 1986, Rabbi Washington and other key House of Israel leaders were arrested and charged with murder. Washington pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a fifteen-year sentence."
"Paul Schafer was one of the founders of the Colony of Righteousness and was, and is, its only leader. Schafer jumped bail in Germany in 1961 on charges of child sexual abuse, but that did not stop him from taking a group of families with him when he fled to Chile, arriving there in 1962 at the age of forty with around sixty 'blonde, blue-eyed settlers'... including some children who were brought there under false pretenses, taken from their families back in Germany. His flock came from the town of Siegburg, across the Rhine from Bonn, where Schafer claimed to be a psychologist, and where he ran a youth home where the sexual-abuse charges originated. Schafer, also the leader of a Baptist sect (a sect which evidently condones sexual intercourse between adults and children among other peculiarities), bought an old ranch called El Lavadero about 250 miles south of Santiago in the Parral region and quickly converted it into a self-sufficient, model community known as Colonia Dignidad, the 'Colony of Righteousness' or 'Dignity Colony.'Even before the military coup that toppled the Allende regime, strange allegations were surfacing concerning the Colony (aside from child abductions and sexual abuse, of course).
"Spanish is not spoken: instead, only German, and, oddly, English are used. Old-fashioned, 1940s-era clothing is worn and fourteen-hour workdays are the norm. No television, radio, or newspapers are allowed in the Colony. There is, however, a shortwave unit on the premises which is used to communicate with an office the Colony maintains in Santiago...
"The Colony established a free clinic on its premises: free, that is, on specific days of the week to members of the local population. They also have their own factory for processing meat, power plant... and their own airfield. By 1985, they had even opened their own roadside restaurant on the Pan American Highway.
"Accounts of the size of the Colony vary from news report to news report. Everything from 12,000 acres to 37,000 acres has been offered, and accounts of its operations also include mine, a lumber mill, and a gravel factory. The author believes it is safe to say that the Colony has grown considerably over the years and that estimates of a 37,000-acre settlement might not be far from the mark, considering the other purposes to which the Colony was put both during and after the Allende regime."
(Unholy Alliance, Peter Levenda, pgs. 313-314)
"...in 1966, the first of many accusations against Schafer and the Colony surfaced when Wolfgang Muller escaped the 'watchdogs, electronic alarms and six-foot barbed wire fences to describe life inside the Colony. Muller - who had been brought over from Germany as a member of the original Sieburg group when he was sixteen - claimed that he had been forced into slave labor at the Colony, was beaten, and had been sexually abused by Schafer in Germany when he was twelve years old. One of Muller's more interesting claims - especially in light of later events - is his insistence that Schafer had given him 'memory-altering drugs' when Muller attempted to rebel or to reveal the details of his abuse at Schafer's hands. He also complained of electroshock treatments being administered by camp doctors (shades of Barbie at Montluc Prison). After his escape, he wound up at the West German embassy in Santiago and now lives in that country under an assumed name, still afraid for his life."Child abuse, memory altering drugs, electroshock treatments - it was into this fertile environment some of the Pincochet regime's more unfortunate political prisoners found themselves. The primary liaison between Colonia Dignidad and the Pincochet regime was an American CIA agent named Michael Townley who also served as a member of the Chilean secret police in addition to helping plan the military coup that ousted Allende.
(ibid, pg. 315)
"By the spring of 1973, however, rumors of an impending military coup were rampant in the capital. Among the conspirators creating discord both in the city and in the countryside was a young American, Michael Vernon Townley. Townley was a member of Patria y Libertad and an associate of other right-wing terror groups. A right-wing fanatic himself who carried out assignments for a variety of masters, Townley also contributed to the development of the interrogation program at Colonia Dignidad.
"With the coup, however, the Colony got a chance to put its electroshock and narcotics 'therapies' to the test. Townley and DINA agents had the run of the Colony, both at Parral and at the Colony office in Santiago. While DINA maintained contact with its agents all over the world through the Colony's radio link, Townley helped design the specially equipped interrogation cells. These were tiny, soundproofed rooms built underground where 'poltical prisoners' were taken not only for actual; interrogation of a political or military nature, but also for the purpose of developing new methods of torture.
"At first, each prisoner was questioned closely to obtain sufficient information concerning his or her personality in order to develop an appropriate torture and interrogation scheme. This individualized approach is already well known to the intelligence professionals the author has come into contact over the years. The ostensible goal is to enable the interrogator to so finely tune the torture procedure that the victim surrenders his or her will more completely, more expeditiously. In practice, however, and with such a 'scientifically' adjusted scheme of programmed sadism, there is tremendous room for an interrogator who is so inclined to subject the victim to unimaginable suffering over a long and sustained period of time. That this is what, in fact, took place at the Colony is beyond doubt..."
(ibid, pgs. 317-320)
Over course, it won't come as a surprise to learn that Paul Schafer was a former Nazi who maintained ties with some of the more notorious war criminals in hiding in South America. Josef Mengele is widely believed to have been a guest of the Colony, for instance. Certainly his 'expertise' and first-hand experience in 'enhanced' interrogation methods would have been much appreciated there. Mengele and Michael Townley would have surely had some interesting conversations.
molestation were finally brought against him. In 2005 he was arrested in Argentina and extradited to Chile where he was given a 20 year prison sentence. Shortly after Schafer's arrest, the Colony was raided which led to the discovery of a massive cache of weapons that included machine guns, rocket launchers and even a tank. As of 2005 the Colony had been taken over by Chilean officials.
While its certainly lovely that Schafer and the Colony were finally brought down, researchers have asserted that Colonia Dignidad was but one such camp in South America. Another rumored campsite supposedly existed at Pisagua, Chile. It is now acknowledged that there was some kind of prison camp at this location. The similarities between Colonia Dignidad and Hilltown are also striking. Both communities, which featured fanatical followers from foreign countries driven by doctrines of racial superiority, were incorporated into the security apparatuses of the two nations they became involved in. The major differences seem to be that Hilltown, with over 8000 residents, was more of an overt paramilitary force while Colonia Dignidad was geared more toward 'intelligence' work.
And that brings us to Jonestown. Is it possible that Jonestown was always intended as a site not unlike Colonia Dignidad? As unlikely as this may sound to some, there are several remarkable similarities to Jonestown and Colonia Dignidad, as we shall soon see. Further, there are equally curious US intelligence ties to both sites.
All this shall be examined in the next installment.
Latin American High Weirdness: The Cults Part II
It all began in Indiana in the early 1950s.
"But by 1952 Jim Jones had finally found his true calling: as an assistant minister for the Somerset Methodist Church in Indianapolis. It was at Somerset that the phenomenon we know as Jim Jones was spawned.Jones soon abandoned any pretext of mainstream Christianity and openly preached a Marxist doctrine that he dubbed 'religioius communalism.' It was after a trip to Brazil in the early 1960s (which incidentally occurred at the same time Andrija Puharich [who more was written on in part one of this series] was there investigating Arigo, 'the 'psychic surgeon,' and Josef Mengele was chilling near Sao Paulo) that Jones really began to breakout.
"...Jones, however, preached a gospel of racial tolerance, which was not accepted by the white community but which did attract black worshippers. By all accounts he was a charismatic speaker, but he supplemented his preaching with a fair amount of legerdemain: healing the sick in the manner of fraudulent faith healers the world over who remove cancerous growths from their patients with mesmeric passes, the shouting of Biblical phrases, and the generous use of concealed chicken livers as 'tumors,' which are revealed at just the right moment to effect the 'cure.' Eventually, Jones was kicked out of Somerset, but by then the damage had been done. He was not formally ordained into the ministry until much later, but he had developed a following throughout southern Indiana and Ohio nonetheless, aided by his frantic schedule of prayer services and radio programs, a campaign that wooed black people into a church organization that would include only whites in leadership positions."
(Sinister Forces Book Two, Peter Levenda, pg. 174)
"Upon Jones' return to the United States he quickly found himself formally ordained as a minister, and began setting up shop as the Peoples Temple, first in Indiana and then relocating to Ukiah, California. According to Jones, the relocation to Ukiah was of a piece with the Esquire magazine article that said the nine safest places in the world included Eureka, California. Now, Eureka and Ukiah are quite distant from each other and, to make matters worse, Ukiah is quite close to several military installations around San Francisco which would be targets in the event of a nuclear strike. No matter; somehow Jim rationalized his choice in his own mind.Jones found himself and his church firmly established by the early 1970s.
"By 1968, things at the Peoples Temple had become quite spooky. The Bible was being replaced by Jones' political oratory. The good citizens of Ukiah were getting worried about the strange preacher in the aviator sunglasses who peppered his 'sermons' with obscenities and his theology with Marx. In addition, the white community of Ukiah was nervous at the growing number of blacks who were joining the Peoples Temple and causing cultural distortion in their little town. Jones began casting about for another home, and this would eventually become San Fransisco.
"In the meantime, he managed to attract some of his most important members (and defectors). He would also become heavily involved in the health-care industry, and in California politics..."
(ibid, pg. 189)
"As more and more congregants signed their life savings, their social security checks, and their tax refunds to the Peoples Temple, the church became, if not wealthy, at least well to do. Jones, fearing racial backlash in Ukiah, moved his congregation first to Orlando and then to San Fransisco in 1972, to an old synagogue on Geary Street in 1972. By that time, he was already something of a political power in the state. He was the foreman of the grand jury of Mendocino County, and one of his top aides -Timothy Stoen -was an assistant district attorney for Mendocino County. That meant that, essentially, the Peoples Temple represented the power of both the grand jury and the DA's office: a powerful combination, but it is not clear whether this power was put to actual use.
(ibid, pgs. 191-192)
"Boxing matches were soon inaugurated for the children - almost as entertainment. Laughter and lightheartedness predominated as an errant child was pitted against a stronger opponent who was supposed to win. Some were as young as five. If the wrong child won, tougher opponents would be called into the arena until the child was taught a lesson.All in all, the boxing matches were relatively mild compared to the sexual abuse Jones heaped upon his key members. Jones himself was bisexual, so both men and women alike were fair game. More often than not, the planning committee (the mostly white inner circle of the Peoples Temple) was the target of Jones sexual policies, but he attempted to regulate those of the entire congregation.
"The next step was introducing adults to the matches. The brutality became severe as full-grown people donned gloves and began throwing punches seriously. Sometimes they knocked each other silly to bloodied each other. A person stupid enough to fight to hard would go toe to toe with bigger and better opponents until vanquished. But if he did not fight at all, he was ridiculed and hit anyway. Every punch carried the message: one cannot fight the 'collective will.' The will of Father.
"The battling conditioned people to believe that they would win if they fought for the church and would lose if they fought against it. Jones justified his psychodrama by saying that society was full of rough conditions, that people needed to be rugged and capable of self-defense. Yet it really was an extension of the catharsis sessions, with physical pain added to the psychological. Through corporal punishment, Jones could simultaneously strengthen internal order, mete out justice and indoctrinate."
(Raven, Tim Reiterman, pgs. 259-260)
"He would control the sex lives of the members of the Peoples Temple, and arranged marriages between couples who were then not allowed to have sex. He would demand that wives complain publicly about the lack of sexual performance or prowess of their husbands, while demanding as well that they praise Jim Jones in that department."
(Sinister Forces Book Two, Peter Levenda, pg. 203)
"Jones's relations with women were characterized by his own insatiable ego, garnished with elements of therapy, the reward system, the 'groupie' phenomenon and the old minister-troubled parishioner gambit. Despite his selfless posturing, Jones reveled in his exploits, demanding that his partners publicly praise his prowess and telling his congregation, 'I've been reported to be a good lover...' Some women sought Jones for sex because he was, by his own definition, the only sex symbol available, the 'only heterosexual' male, the ultimate lover, selfless and sensitive and all-powerful. Other women naturally turned to him for their sexual needs just as they turned to him for other types of sustenance and guidance. And they surrendered to him if he approached them."The bulk of the planning committee, in addition to being mostly white, was dominated by women. Jones seduced a good portion of these 'lucky' ladies with some becoming long time mistresses. It was with men, however, that the sexual abuse and psychological humiliation was at its most brutal.
(Raven, Tim Reiterman, pg. 177)
Jones frequently made his male conquests give detailed accounts of their time with Jim before the planning committee in which they thanked Jones personally for sodomizing them to further reinforce the humiliation. If this was not enough to set off red flags around the Peoples Temple, there were the bizarre charges brought against Jones himself for lewd conduct.
"Jones went out of his way to find male partners who showed not the slightest homosexual inclinations. Backstage at a Los Angeles service, he looked at a newcomer named Tim Carter in a fatherly fashion and patted him on the back of the head. 'Son, if you want me to fuck you in the ass, I will,' he offered. When the shocked Vietnam veteran replied in the negative, Jones left the door open, saying 'Just so you know I'm here if you want me.'
"He particularly liked awakening macho types, respected church members or 'studs' to their 'homosexulity,' though he rarely took on black males. As he said later on tape, he delighted to hear brawny men squealing with pleasure as he mastered them..."
(ibid, pg. 176)
"...on December 13, 1973. That afternoon the Westlake Theater, a movie house across from MacArthur Park and about a mile and a half from the Los Angeles Temple, was playing the Clint Eastwood movie Dirty Harry. MacArthur Park was reputed to be a meeting place for homosexuals, and patrons of the Westlake had been complaining about homosexual solicitations there. In response, Ramparts Station had assigned two vice squad officers, Arthur Kagele, and Lloyd Frost, to work the place in plainclothes.With each new scandal and defection Jones' paranoia grew worse and worse. Finally he decided to flee the United States all together for Jonestown, an agricultural commune the Temple had set up in the mid-1970s in Guyana, South America. A handful of members had already been living there for a few years, but in 1977 Jones set about moving the bulk of his congregation overseas to this alleged tropical paradise. Eventually some 1200 members made the journey. What they found in Jonestown was far from paradise.
"Within a minute, he heard the restroom door open, and the black-haired man strode back to the same toilet stall. The man's right arm began moving, and he turned to Kagele. He was holding his penis erect in his hand. Masturbating provocatively, the man approached the officer. By the time he reached the middle of the room, he had crossed the boundary of lewd conduct. Stepping outside the restroom, Kegele signaled his partner, and they made the arrest...
"James Warren Jones, forty-two, was booked for investigation of lewd conduct and held on $500 bail. On his arrest sheet, he listed his employer as Disciples of Christ, his occupation as pastor. Significantly, the only physical malady he reported was 'possible hemorrhoids.' Jones was bailed out promptly, and his followers went immediately to work."
(ibid, pg. 231)
"The Temple members lived on rice and beans, and a little water (depending on rainfall). It was, essentially, concentration-camp living, with ever-present security forces alert to any deviation from the fixed routine, any complaint, no matter how reasonable or how minor. For infractions, one could be imprisoned in 'the box' for extended periods of time, fed on a liquid diet - with vital signs monitored daily to ensure that the inmate was still alive - and subjected to interrogation by the security team until they were satisfied that the inmate was giving correct answers. Children were subject to even worse treatment, taken to a well at the bottom of which two adults would be hiding in the water, waiting to grab the unfortunate child's legs and drag him or her under the surface of the brackish water. After a long session of that, the child would be allowed to return to the surface, and then would have to walk all the way back to the compound through the jungle, repeating over and over, 'I'm sorry, Father."Father was what Jones was eventually referred to in the Peoples Temple, BTW. There were even more extreme abuses than these at Jonestown. With most of his congregation now living in close quarters to one and other Jones now attempted to establish total control over their sex lives.
(Sinister Forces Book Two, Peter Levenda, pg. 212)
"...many people chafed under the restrictive rules and practices. Sex guidelines were a major irritant. As in the States, Jones gave contradictory sexual instructions. There was no sexual freedom. The true homosexuals were not allowed to practice it, without fear of being ridiculed or confronted on the floor. Unmarried or unsanctioned couples slept together at their own peril, and married couples never could be intimate with any degree of privacy in their crowded cottages...If armed guards, constant surveillance, sensory-deprivation, and complete domination of sexual practices were not enough, soon drugging was added to the arsenal of behavioral modifications at Jonestown.
"A Relationship Committee was established to set ground rules for sex and marriage. If a couple wanted a union, they needed committee approval. During a three-month trial period no physical contact -not even kissing -was permitted. Next, they were allowed a physical relationship for a six-month trial period. If the relationship survived, they were considered married. Pregnancy automatically meant a permanent relationship. People came to the committee for contraceptives, dispensed according to established rules..."
(Raven, Tim Reiterman, pg. 393)
"In a sort of 'brownie point' system, two 'praises' canceled out one warning. Three warnings a month resulted in PSU punishment -which Jones found inadequate for some cases. By late summer, he had established an ECU or 'Extended Care Unit,' for unmanageable people such as captured escapees. Their keepers sedated them and drugged them under twenty-four-hour observation...Jones himself was reportedly a heavy user of some of these drugs, especially during his time at Jonestown.
"...Overseers at the eight-bed ECU had access to enough behavior-controlling drugs to equip the city of Georgetown. Among the drugs later recovered from Jonestown were: 10,000 injectable doses and 1,000 tablets of Thorazine, an antipsychotic; 20,000 doses of the pain-killer Demerol; 3,000 liquid doses and 2,000 tablets of Valium; 200 vials of injectable morphine sulfate; and thousands of doses of other powerful drugs, such as Quaaludes, Vistaril (for management of anxiety and tension), Noludar (habit-forming sleeping aid) and Innovar Injection, a tranquilizer normally used for surgery and diagnosis.
"These behavior-altering drugs can cause hallucinations, blurred vision, confusion and speech disturbances, involuntary movements, suicidal tendencies or other emotional upheavals. They were sometimes administered in dangerously high doses to ECU patients, though there is no indication they were given to the general Jonestown population through food or other means."
(ibid, pgs. 449-450)
"The drugs - injectable Valium, Quaaludes, uppers, barbiturates, whatever he wanted - had taken hold of him. His voice, once so riveting, now sounded pathetic, raspy, as if he were very drunk or his tongue coated with peanut butter. Words collided with each other in slow motion. He would read from typed notes, but often not finish sentences. Sometimes, as he sat in West House, barely gripping the army field phone that connected him to the radio room, he could barely read at all."Let us now wrap up with the saga of the Peoples Temple so we can get on to the real curiosities. A group of former members and relatives continued to bring pressure on the US government to investigate allegations of abuse at Jonestown in addition to child abductions until finally Congressman Leo Ryan led a group of reporters, ex-members, and relatives to Guyana in late 1978 to investigate the conditions at Jonestown.
(ibid, pg. 446)
I'm sure the reader has picked up on the striking similarities between Jonestown and Colonia Dignidad, another 'agricultural experiment' addressed in part one of this series. Peter Levenda brilliantly sums them up in the second book of his epic Sinister Forces trilogy.
"Colonia Dignidad was another 'religious' community with a political agenda (it had been used as a torture and interrogation center by the Chilean secret police during the overthrow of President Salvador Allende in 1973), was completely populated by German citizens (as Jonestown was by American citizens), was run by a minister of religion who was also a sexual sadist, etc. In both cases, orphaned children and foster children were exported to the colonies, and financial subsidies derived from their respective governements. In both cases, the colonies used shortwave radio communications with their officers in the country's capitols. Those offices were used by members to influence government officials, and, in the case of Jonestown, one Temple member was ordered to become the paramour of a Guyanese government official. And on and on. The parallels are almost too numerous to mention."Indeed. There is an especially sinister parallel that we shall examine in the next installment.
Latin American High Weirdness: The Cults Part III
installment of this series on South American cults with deep backgrounds I was addressing parallels between the notorious Colonia Dignidad, an 'agricultural experiment' run by a former Nazi and pedophile, and Jonestown. Another parallel I would now like to address between Colonia Dignidad and Jonestown is the seeming involvement of the US intelligence community. In the case of Colonia Dignidad, this is rather openly acknowledged due to the presence of the notorious interrogation 'specialist' and CIA man Michael Townley during the overthrow of Allende. I addressed this tie in part one of this series.
Jim Jones himself had a longstanding relationship with another CIA interrogation specialist, based out of South America nonetheless, known as Dan Mitrione.
"Even the biography of the man at the center of the holocaust, Jim Jones, was sketchy and open to interpretation. His presumed close association with Dan Mitrione was never investigated by the US government or, if it was, the results were never made public. Mitrione was the man taken hostage and then killed by the leftist guerrilla Tupamaros in Uruguay in 1970, revolutionaries who knew that he was a CIA agent with AID agency cover. Jones and Mitrione had known each other in Indiana, where Mitrione was a cop specializing in juveniles and Jones a fifteen-year-old sidewalk preacher, and they were both in Brazil at the same time in the early 1960s: Mitrione with a police training unit that was under Agency for International Development (AID) cover, and Jones in some murky capacity that involved the US consulate.Levenda and other researchers have suggested that Mitrione was Jones' handler all the way up to his death in 1970. Certainly some of Mitrione's methods of interrogation were seemingly incorporated into Jonestown. Its also interesting to note that Jones, Mitrione, and Andrija Puharich were all in Brazil at the same time in 1962 (as was another 'interrogation' enthusiast, Josef Mengele). This is not the only link Jones has to Puharich, a likely US intelligence asset.
"Mitrione, it is now known, was involved with the training of Latin American police forces in the use of torture and drugs in interrogations, under the auspices of the now-defunct and cynically-entitled Office of Public Safety (OPS), an Orwellian organization that was formed during the Eisenhower administration. Mitrione was an avid practitioner of the methods he taught, and according to one of his trainees in Uruguay in the late 1960s, he would pick up homeless people on the streets to be used as guinea pigs in his training sessions, bloody interrogations which were always conducted in a soundproof room. In Montevideo, this room was in the basement of his home. When the derelicts died during the course of the 'training,' their bodies would be dumped back in the streets as a warning to the Communist insurgents."
(ibid, pg. 171)
Layton and Deborah were two of the most prominent members in the Temple at one point.
"...in 1970, Deborah Layton met Jim Jones for the first time... By the mid-1970s she had become one of his most trusted followers, an essential partner in setting up the Jonestown facility and managing the administrative and financial matters of the church both in the States and, eventually in Guyana. Her brother, Larry, was just as deeply involved and was part of the security force that guarded the Jonestown complex, a security force that was more like a troop of prison guards than a defensive army to protect the members from outside hostilities."Larry's wife, Carolyn Moore Layton, was also a member of the congregation and eventually became one of Jones' mistresses. In going about this, Jones suggested that Larry and Carolyn divorce, then Jones preceded to publicly humiliate Larry in front of the congregation. That did the trick. Carolyn later on had a child with Jones, named Kimo Jones. Carolyn and Kimo both died at Jonestown. Larry would be involved in the ambush of the Ryan party at Port Kaituma airstrip after initially posing as a defector.
(ibid, pg. 200)
"Larry Layton had boarded the single-engine Cessna first - shoving himself forward ahead of everyone - and was armed; he either picked up a pistol earlier at Jonestown or it had been planted in the plane. Since all the Temple defectors had been checked for weapons before boarding, it seems more likely that the gun had been planted in the plane, which is why Larry insisted to Ryan that he have a seat on that particular aircraft.
"He began shooting in the plane as it was trying to take off during the attack, wounding defectors Monica Bagby and Vernon Gosney before his revolver misfired and it was taken from him by defector Dale Parks."
(ibid, pg. 222)
Comment: This sounds implausible. Ryan and the NBC reporters had not yet entered the plane when they were shot at by "zombies" from behind a tractor on the side of the runway. The hitmen first sprayed the airplane and everyone around it with heavy machine-gun fire then methodically walked up to pre-selected targets and shot them with handguns from point-blank range. If Layton was already on the plane by the time this started, then it is more likely that he was returning fire in self-defense and was framed for the murder of Congressman Ryan.
To date, Larry Layton Jr. is only one of two individuals ever charged in connection with the Jonestown massacre. His sister Deborah was more fortunate. She defected from Jonestown, seeing the writing on the wall. She would become instrumental in raising awareness of the abuses occurring in Jonestown, which eventually led Congressman Leo Ryan to visit, triggering the massacre. The mother of Deborah and Larry Layton, Lisa Philip Layton, was also a member of the congregation and died in Jonestown three months before the massacre from cancer. It is her husband, Laurence J. Layton, father of Deborah and Larry, that we find out connection to Andrija Puharich.
"In February of 1953, Andrija Puharich had been redrafted into the US Army, and posted to the Army Chemical Center in Edgewood, Maryland, where he would remain until April of 1955. His duties are not described anywhere in detail... Before Puharich's posting, one Dr. Laurance J. Layton was posted to Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah, a test center for the Chemical Warfare Division; this was in November of 1951. In March of 1952, Layton had been named Chief of the US Army's Chemical Warfare Division, a position he held until 1954. In other words, Dr. Layton was - at least on paper - Dr. Puharich's boss."That two of the key Peoples Temple members would be the children of the head of the US Army's Chemical Warfare division is in and of itself very interesting. That this individual was likely associated with Andija Puharich is even more of a revelation.
(ibid, pg. 188)
Another curious fellow that figures into the Jim Jones saga is Richard Dwyer, a State Department official who severed at the U.S. Embassy to Guyana at the time of Jonestown. In general the State Department has been heavily criticized for its handling of the Jonestown affair, especially the officials working out of Guyana. It has generally been felt that they ignored the problem at best, and obstructed investigations into Jonestown at worst.
"Both the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the State Department itself criticized the State Department's handling of Peoples Temple. But neither provided a full airing of the government's role in the affair. State Department officials who dealt extensively with the Temple and who appear compromised in the Temple's internal reports never testified in public, nor were they subjected to public cross examination. And thousands of pages of documents - some reportedly indicating the depth of the government's knowledge about the Temple and the scope of the complaints brought to the government's attention - were classified."Dwyer would certainly count as one of the State Department officials 'compromised' by the Temple. Still Reiterman, a journalist who was present at the Ryan party ambush and was himself wounded there, defends some of the more serious allegations against Dwyer.
(Raven, Tim Reiterman, pg. 576)
"...MK-ULTRA theory... Proponents of this theory allege that Embassy official Richard Dwyer was a CIA agent and was in fact present at the murder-suicides - and their proof is Jones's command, 'Get Dwyer out of here.' Most likely Jones incorrectly assumed that Dwyer was in the camp, and not at the airstrip with the Ryan party. Dwyer had planned to accompany Ryan to the airstrip, then return to Jonestown to process any additional defectors. But the airstrip shooting intervened, and he was wounded there...Levenda insists that Dwyer was in fact a CIA asset.
"...Dwyer later was asked by reporters, including Jacobs, if he worked for the CIA. He said his terms of employment with the foreign service forbade him either to confirm or deny it."
(ibid, pg. 590)
"Dwyer's involvement in this - and subsequent discoveries about his background in intelligence - is one of the more suggestive elements of the whole saga. Dwyer was a career intelligence officer, working under State Department cover at the US Embassy in Georgetown. He was, according to several sources, the CIA Chief of Station for Guyana. As such, he could be expected to have very good information on Jonestown; unfortunately, he did not choose to share this information with Ryan or his party. It was well-known in Georgetown that the Peoples Temple had strong influence with the Guyanese government; Temple women were expected to develop personal relationships with Guyanese officials, and one such woman was the mistress of the Guyanese ambassador to the United States. Dwyer would have had to have known all of this, as Georgetown is small as capitals go, a place where gossip is about the only entertainment there is. Further, as CIA station chief, it would have been his business to know all about the Peoples Temple political involvements, not only with the Guyanese government but also with the Soviet Union and Cuba, as the Temple had approached both of these countries - through their embassies in Georgetown - as possible relocation sites. Yet, Dwyer - and the State Department in general - remained strangely silent on the subject of the Peoples Temple and offered very little assistance to Congressman Ryan before and during his trip."Indeed, the figures surrounding Jones during his rise and later fall are something of a rogue's gallery - these are just a few examples. The circumstances of the Jonestown massacre itself and the ambush on Congressman Leo Ryan are equally suspect, especially the official account. Before getting to that, I would like to briefly address Ryan himself, which may provide further insight into the panic Jonestown set off in certain sectors. You see, Ryan's most notable legislation involved cracking down on the CIA.
(Sinister Forces Book Two, Peter Levenda, pg. 219)
"At the same time, California Congressman Leo J. Ryan was making a name for himself as a government watchdog. He had co-authored the Hughes-Ryan Amendment, which required the CIA to get prior approval from Congress before undertaking any covert activity. In addition, he was asked questions about the CIA's mind-control projects in the State of California, as he wondered whether or not the notorious members of the Symbonese Liberation Army (SLA) had been willing or unwilling beneficiaries of the MK-ULTRA program while serving time at Vacaville."If Jonestown was in fact some kind of CIA front, having a Congressman with more than a passing knowledge of these types of operations, to say nothing of one who had enacted legislation to curve the power of the CIA, arriving at Jonestown would not go down well. Is it possible that he was then targeted for elimination? One of the curious circumstances surrounding the Jonestown massacre that I alluded to earlier is the Ryan party ambush itself and the presence Guyanese troops at the airport who seemingly stood down as the killings occurred.
(ibid, pg. 204)
Comment: Nobody interferes with the CIA and gets away with it.
"Something very bad is going on within the CIA and I want to know what it is. I want to shred the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter them to the four winds." ~ JFK
"There were others at the airport at the time, local Guyanese troops in fact, guarding a military plane that was being repaired, who made themselves scarce when the shooting started. The congressman's party did not have any weapons... and were sitting ducks. Bob Flick, an NBC producer, ran to the troops and begged them for help. They refused. They said it was a conflict between Americans and had nothing to do with them. He asked them for a weapon in order to defend himself. They refused again. They sat and watched five people being murdered in cold blood, and when the murderers took off in their tractor for Jonestown after the killing, they made no move to pursue them but instead let them pass."Even Tim Reiterman, a journalist who was wounded at the Ryan party ambush and who has generally dismissed conspiratorial views of Jonestown, was utterly baffled by the behavior of the soldiers present at the Port Kaituma airstrip. Other mysteries include the body count at Jonestown itself, which has been hotly disputed.
(ibid, pg. 222)
"Initially, the body count - performed by the first contingent of Guyanese troops that arrived the morning of the massacre - was only about two hundred. Later, as the day went on and more investigators (and curiosity-seekers) arrived, the body count was corrected upwards. At first, it was believed that the grand total would come in at three hundred sixty-three, of which eighty-two were identified as children. Yet, as the body count increased, the incredulous wanted to know how it was possible that it could go from 363 to 913; how was such a wide variation possible?There is one final mystery surrounding the Jonestown massacre I would like to address, though this is hardly a comprehensive list - readers are encouraged to read up more on this significant historical moment. Anyway, that mystery is the death of Jim Jones himself. The official account of Jones' death goes like this:
"The explanation given was that some of the bodies were those of children, and that the adult bodies fallen on top of them, rendering immediate location and identification difficult. In other words, there were more than five hundred bodies hidden under the first 363. That did not seem possible, particularly as the initial counts showed that of the 363, more than 80 were children. It simply did not make sense, and it seemed as if someone, somewhere was lying about the body count on behalf of some hidden agenda.
"What made matters worse was the discovery of some 789 American passports at the scene. If there were only 363 bodies discovered, then 426 other souls were unaccounted for and possibly on the run through the Guyanese jungle. One had to put a stop to that rumor at once, and the body count was adjusted upwards to the point where 913 became the official number. But, to be perfectly honest, there was no verifiable, official record of the number of corpses, and only about three hundred had ever been positively identified. Photos of some of the bodies show that they were wearing identification bracelets on their wrists, the type commonly used in hospitals to identify patients. No one knows why this was done, and particularly why those bracelets mysteriously disappeared somewhere between Jonestown and the American air base where the bodies were eventually shipped, thus rendering further identification even more difficult. (Three bodies were actually lost, and turned up in storage lockers in southern California years after the fact!) The bodies were left in the open jungle air for days, and had reached a particularly loathsome state of putrescence, rendering hellish the task of coroners and medical examiners. In fact, there were virtually no autopsies performed on the bodies recovered."
(ibid, pg. 224)
"In the pavilion, Jim Jones lay dead, a bullet hole in his temple, gaping exit wound where his brains and skull were blown away. The bullet had traveled at an upward angle through his head and into oblivion. A gun was resting, mysteriously, some twenty feet away. His body lay in repose on a cleared space near his throne, between two other bodies. His head of raven hair was cushioned by a pillow, as though someone had him comfortable before -or perhaps after - the squeeze of a trigger removed him from his misery."It has been hotly contested as to whether or not Jones committed suicide or was murdered. Officially Jones is a suicide but even Reiterman acknowledges this is highly suspect. The pavilion area he writes of was an open space in the midst of Jonestown. The gun that killed Jones was found some 20 feet from the body. Its almost as if some one crept up on him, possibly while he was asleep or in a pill-induced stupor, and pulled the trigger.
(Raven, Tim Reiterman, pg. 565)
From a synchronictic perspective, one of the most compelling mysteries is the location of Jonestown itself. A similar tragedy occurred near the Jonestown site nearly a century before Jones walked the face of the Earth.
"Yet another disturbing coincidence lies in the fact that the site chosen by Jones was in the Northwestern District of Guyana, the place where - in 1845 - a Reverend Smith called together the local Native American population (including the Arawaks, Tituba's countrymen), and told them the Millennium was at hand. When it did not materialize, Smith's four hundred followers committed mass suicide on the spot, believing they would be resurrected as 'white people.' The parallels to the Jonestown event are too strong to be ignored."Tituba was a seventeenth-century slave in Salem, Massachusetts who was one of the first three people accused of witchcraft there. This marked the beginning of the legendary witch trials. I've written a bit more on Tituba and this topic here.
(Sinister Forces Book Two, Peter Levenda, pgs. 210-211)
So much for Jonestown itself. Now I would also like to briefly address the similarities between Jim Jones and Charles Manson. Both men were fanatical cult leaders that attempted to retreat from the world, Jones to the jungles of Guyana, Manson to the deserts of California. Both used drugs (Manson more so than Jones) as a tool to control their followers. Both were obsessed with race and believed that a race war was soon coming to the United States. Based on this belief, as well as fears of a nuclear holocaust, both became increasingly paranoid. This paranoia led to both the retreat from the world and a militarization of their respective cults.
Both are portrayed as master con men that took advantage of the poor and disturbed. This is partly true, but both the Peoples Temple and the Family featured key members who came from upper crust backgrounds, such as the Laytons or Masonite Lynette 'Squeaky' Fromme, who was the daughter of an aerospace engineer that had been stationed at Randolph Air Force Base during WWII. What's more, both cultivated contacts with VIPs. As noted earlier, Jones was heavily involved in the California political scene. He befriended political radicals such as Huey Newton and Angela Davis and even gained an audience with First Lady Rosalynn Carter. Manson sought, and gained, many contacts in the vast L.A. entertainment scene.
"He made numerous contacts in the music business, including Dennis Wilson, Neil Young and Terry Melcher - the son of Doris Day, and the former occupant, along with Candace Bergen, of the Cielo Drive home where the Tate murders occurred. Charlie even reportedly served as a 'religious consultant' for Universal Studios on a movie about Christ, and also auditioned to be one of 'The Monkeys.'"
(Programmed to Kill, David McGowan, pg. 138)
And both seemingly had ties to the US Intelligence community. In Manson's case, it most overtly came in the form of notorious drug baron Ronald Stark. Stark began as a large scale LSD dealer who became involved with the Brotherhood of Eternal Love in the late 1960s. Stark would go on to branch into other narcotics in the 1970s long after the Brotherhood was busted and was seemingly one of the largest supplier in the world by the 1970s. In 1980 we was finally brought down in Italy. An Italian court later released Stark on the basis that he had been employed by the US 'secret services' since at least 1960. Stark died shortly thereafter.
The Manson Family themselves were involved in the L.A. drug market and were even dealing cocaine in the late 1960s at a time when it was extremely rare in the States. Manson seemingly had some upper scale clients. He also seemingly had a relationship with Stark, who may have been his supplier. I've written much more on Manson's ties to Starks and his other links to intelligence here and here - I urge my readers to check out both pieces in conjunction to these blogs on Jonestown and other cult sites in Latin America we've examined here.
Finally, I would like to examine the bizarre allegations of another serial killer who claimed to be a member of an international Satanic cult. This would be none other than the infamous Henry Lee Lucas, a man officially convicted of 11 murders, but who claimed involvement in over 600 killings at one point. Incidentally, he was the only man ever saved from the Texas death row by then-Governor Bush. Back when Henry was first arrested in the 1980s he had quite a tale to tell.
"...Henry's indoctrination into a nationwide satanic cult. Lucas claimed that leaders of the camp were so impressed with his handling of a knife that he was allowed to serve as an instructor. Following his training, Henry claimed that he served the cult in various ways, including as a contract killer and as an abductor of children, whom he delivered to a ranch in Mexico near Juarez. Once there, they were used in the production of child pornography and for ritual sacrifice. Henry has said that this cult's operations were based in Texas, and included trafficking in children and drugs, among other illegal pursuits."One of the most bizarre claims Henry made was that he was a close friend of Jim Jones, that the Peoples Temple was a part of this vast cult network which he called the Hand of Death, and that he had taken a chartered plane to Guyana and personally delivered the cyanide to Jones that was used in the massacre.
(Programmed to Kill, David McGowan, pgs. 72-73)
"What then are we to make of Henry's professed connection to the tragic People's Temple? Several investigators have documented that the Jonestown massacre was not by any means a case of mass suicide, as was reported by the U.S. press. It was in fact a case of mass murder. The Guyanese coroner, Dr. C. Leslie Mootoo, concluded that only a handful of the 913 victims at Jonestown died by means of suicide on that fateful day. All of the rest were summarily executed, some by lethal injection, some by strangulation, and some simply shot through the head. It is apparent then that if Lucas was in fact at Jonestown at the time of the mass murder, he was quite likely doing considerably more than just serving as a delivery boy. A man of Henry's talents would be an invaluable asset in a clean-up operation of that type. And what was being cleaned up was, of course, itself an MK-ULTRA project - complete with vast stockpiles of drugs, sensory deprivation equipment, and a band of zombie-like assassins who gunned down Congressman Leo Ryan's entourage just before the massacre (thus necessitating the clean-up operation).
(ibid, pg. 80)
The point being, Henry's claims simply seem to confirm the official version on Jonestown. If he was an insider, seemingly he would have had details concerning the deaths that weren't widely known at the time. Given how liberally Henry talked when he was first captured, it seems he would have stated any oddities he knew about Jonestown that didn't jive with the official story.
That being said, there has been confirmations to some of Henry's other outlandish claims.
"One of the more compelling aspects of Henry's story was 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.The Matamoros cult being referenced here is none other than the drug ring run by the notorious Adolfo Constanzo, one of the most concrete examples of a 'Satanic' cult of the past few decades. Much more will be written on this outfit in a later installment in this series. For now, back to Henry, and another 'hit' his cult map produced over a decade later.
"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."
(ibid, pg. 88)
"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 'clandestine burial grounds [were] practically within sight of the U.S. border.'Of course anyone who follows the news will remember that Juarez has seen a massive amount of women murdered, some with ritualistic overtones, over the past decade. 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 - shades of Jonestown and its ever changing body count. Naturally, any possibility that there were other sites was also quickly dismissed.
"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)
And that about wraps things up. To recap: We have three distinct 'religious' colonies based out of South America promoting theologies obsessed with race, each involved in some capacity with the governments they reside in, and at least two (Colonia Dignidad and Jonestown) with strong ties to the US Intelligence community. Further, Guyana and Chile were seen as essential nations in the Cold War struggle with the Soviets. What's more, all three colonies display traces of brainwashing and mind control on a wide scale. Is this all merely a coincidence or was there something more sinister at play?
What's more, there are definite similarities between the Peoples Temple and the Manson Family. In a way, the Manson clan almost seems like a warm up act to the Peoples Temple... or a prototype. The Peoples Temple was much more polished, much more refined, the horrors better disguised. Was Jonestown the next evolutionary step from the Spahn ranch? And if so, what will the next stage look like, and on what scale?
Latin American High Weirdness: The Cults Part IV
here, here, and here. Those posts also touch on the Nazis and drugs briefly, as well as a cult centered around the notorious UMMO affair. I touched on the Nazis a bit more on a post concerning the notorious Colonia Dignidad. That was part one of our current series. In part two I addressed the infamous Jim Jones and the mass suicides at Jonestown. In part three I examined the similarities between Colonia Dignidad, Jonestown and various other cults such as the Manson Family (of whom I've written on here and here) and the one that sprang up in Matamoros, Mexico in the late 1980s. For part four, we shall further explore the Matamoros cult that was led by a charismatic individual known as Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo.
The saga of Constanzo was eventually turned into a low budget slasher film called Borderland. This is one of the few cases where the Hollywood depiction was actually tame compared to the real life bloodbath Constanzo left in his wake. Constanzo, a Cuban-American hailing from Miami, would relocate to Mexico in 1984. By 1989 he had built a modest, but ever-growing, drug ring that was centered around the Afro-Caribbean cult practices of Santeria and Palo Mayombe. The cult would include several Mexican celebrities in addition to both fellow drug smugglers as well as several high ranking Mexican police (who were instrumental in the rise of Constanzo). Sacrifice was central to Constanzo's cult - both animal as well as human.
"... Delia Aurora Gonzalez dal Vallee was the idea mother.In addition to being a follower of Santeria, Delia was also quite a frequent small time criminal.
"She showed him the way.
"Adolfo Constanzo's earliest childhood memory was not of a favorite toy or a parent's smile, but the gurgling death rattle of a chicken's slit throat, its blood offered up to the ancient African gods. He knew a home filled with decay and blood, inuring him to death. His reward for good behavior was the gift of an animal to mutilate or kill...
"There was the power that shedding blood brought, the essence of Santeria. Give blood to the gods, and they will answer your prayers.
"There was the daily embrace of death and decay inside Delia's filthy and bloodstained home, the basis of Palo Mayombe's magic. Above all, a palero must relish the stench of decomposing flesh, for he must take the evil spirits of the dead inside him, becoming possessed by them."
(Buried Secrets, Edward Humes, pgs. 65-66)
Delia saw to it that Adolfo was initiated into high levels of occult practices at a young age, in addition to making ever valuable contacts in the drug trade.
"Her pattern of crime stretches across more than ten years and thirty separate court cases, showing how she and her children would let the eviction notices and unpaid rent bills pile up, then suddenly and quietly leave with their former homes in shambles. Then they would do it again. And again. They would change the locks and the landlords would come to the door and pound and pound. Delia would never answer, never leave until she was just one step ahead of the handcuffs."
(ibid, pg.s 69-70)
"Adolfo's 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 nonbelievers kill themselves with drugs. We will profit from their foolishness.'"Of this godfather, Edward Humes writes:
(Raising Hell, Michael Newton, pg. 105)
"Constanzo's Haitian padrino was such a man. He was not interested in love spells or acts of benevolence, only in spilling blood and taking life. He passed that bloodlust on to his young apprentice, dispensing lessons, beatings, and exposure to the macabre in equal measures until nothing had an effect on him. Adolfo took the beatings as if they were a part of growing up; he met the horror with a child's eagerness."There's no evidence that pedophilia was a part of the 'lessons' Constanzo's godfather passed on to him, but Constanzo would seemingly embrace his homosexuality shortly after coming into contact with the old Haitian padrino.
(Buried Secrets, pg. 56)
"He was still a teenager when he began frequenting homosexual hangouts in Miami and nearby Fort Lauderdale. His handsome square face, penetrating brown eyes, thick shock of red tinted hair and solid youthful body commanded immediate attention when he sauntered into the pickup bars. He had no difficulty attracting lovers for one-night stands, or longer romances of a month or more."Some of the darkest speculation surrounding the Matamoros cult was its possible use of children. Rumors of child sacrifice came up in conjunction with the cult from time to time. In addition to his bizarre sex life Constanzo was known to sexually abuse his victims before killing them, so pedophilia doesn't seem to be out of the question. The possibility of child sacrifice in addition to Constanzo's sexuality will be talked about in greater depth in a later installment. For now, I'll wrap up this biographical sketch.
(Hell Ranch, Clifford L. Linedecker, pg. 21)
In 1984 Constanzo moved to Mexico City full time after shuttling back and forth between there and Miami for about a year. His star immediately began to rise.
"By mid-1984, Adolfo had moved to Mexico City, where he served as something of a 'psychic to the stars,' earning extravagant fees and living quite lavishly. His fastidiously neat and orderly home in a high-dollar suburb of Mexico's capital was, interestingly enough, located directly across an elementary school. Described as having a magnetic personality, Constanzo attracted an array of famous and colorful people - including entertainment stars, fashion models, transsexual nightclub performers, politicians, businessmen, crime lords, police officials and civil servants."A year before Constanzo moved to Mexico City full time he had already been laying the ground work for his cult by seducing several men who would become key followers.
(Programmed to Kill, David McGowan, pg. 89)
"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 city's 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 Rodriquez and Orea, claiming one as his 'man' and the other as his 'woman,' depending on Adolfo's romantic whim."
(Raising Hell, Michael Newton, pg. 105)
"At first glance, the most peculiar aspect of Constanzo's new career was the appeal he seemed to have for ranking law-enforcement officers. At least four members of the Federal Judicial Police joined Constanzo's 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 triggermen for drug smugglers, corruption is not unusual, but the devotion of Constanzo's 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."It was in fact the Mexican police who paved the way for Constanzo's entrance into the lucrative world of drug trafficking.
(ibid, pg. 106)
"In 1986, Florentino Ventura introduced Constanzo to the drug-dealing Calzada family, then one of Mexico's 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."The Interpol man, Florentino Ventura, will be very important a bit later on, so keep him in mind. As for the Calzada family, their association with Constanzo did not end well. Eventually Adolfo came to believe that his magic was the reason for their success. He demanded that the Calzada family split their drug profits with him 50-50. The cartel of course refused, which proved to be a fatal mistake.
(ibid, pg. 106-107)
"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 Calzada's office. Six more days elapsed before the officers began fishing mutilated remains from the Zumpango River. Seven corpses were recovered in the course of a week, all bearing signs of sadistic torture - fingers, toes, and ears removed, hearts and sex organs excised, part of the spine ripped from one body, two others missing brains.It's interesting to note that the Calzada family was wiped out by Constanzo on Walpurgis Night, one of the chief holidays in northern and central European paganism. Walpurgis Night occurs exactly six months after Halloween.
"The vanished parts, as it turned out, had gone to feed Constanzo's cauldron of blood, building up his strength for greater conquests yet to come."
(ibid, pg. 107)
"In Central Europe it was apparently on Walpurgis Night, the Eve of May Day, above all other times that the baleful powers of the witches were exerted to the fullest extent; nothing therefore could be more natural than that men should be on guard against them at that season, and that, not content with merely standing on their defense, they should boldly have sought to carry the war into the enemy's quarters by attacking and forcibly expelling the uncanny crew."Incidentally (or not), Constanzo often referred to himself as a brujo, a witch. Alas, the Calzadas were apparently not big readers of Sir Frazer. As for Constanzo, he quickly moved on (with more help from the Mexican police) and found another drug cartel that was willing to split the profits in exchange for his magical protection. In this case Salvador Garcia, a Federal Judicial Police agent, was the conduit for Constanzo's drug trafficking.
(The Golden Bough, James Frazer, pgs. 574-575)
"In July 1987, Salvador Garcia introduced Constanzo to another drug-running family, this one led by brothers Elio and Ovidio Hernandez. At the end of that month, in Matamoros, Constanzo also met twenty-two-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 - Septemember 6 - was the same as his mother's. Sara was dating Brownsville drug smuggler Gilberto Sosa, at the time, but she was soon wound up in Constanzo's bed, Adolfo scuttling the old relationship with an anonymous call to Sosa, revealing Sara's infidelity. With nowhere else to turn, Sara plunged full tilt into Constanzo's world, emerging as the madrina - godmother or 'head witch' - of his cult, adding her own twists to the torture of sacrificial victims."It also helped that Elio Hernandez was obsessed with Sara Aldrete, a fact Constanzo was aware of before he even met Aldrete. While Salvador Garcia recommended the Hernandez cartel to Constanzo in addition to supplying him with mounds of intelligence on them, it was actually Aldrete who introduced Constanzo to Elio. Constanzo was aware of Elio's obsession with Aldrete before he even met and seduced to her. In acquiring control of the Hernandez cartel Aldrete was one of the chief tools Constanzo employed. Later on he forced Aldrete to have sexual relations with Elio to ensure the head Hernandez brother's loyalty.
(Raising Hell, Michael Newton, pgs. 107-108)
Shortly after joining the Hernandez gang human sacrifice became a common feature of Constanzo's cult, of which the bulk of the Hernandez clan joined. Everyone was game from rival drug dealers, police, local farmers, and, eventually, American tourists. The sacrifices went into overdrive when Constanzo was able to set up a temple at the Rancho Santa Elena, an isolated ranch near the Texas border owned by the Hernandez clan and used for storing drugs. Here at least 15 individuals met their deaths typically after being raped and tortured by Constanzo, who claimed that the more his victims screamed, the more pleasing the sacrifice was to his gods. The most noted victim of the Rancho Santa Elena was an American spring-breaker, the 21-year-old Mark Kilroy, who was abducted in Matamoros in 1989 and taken to the ranch. Kilroy's disappearance became big news in the American media (in no small part due to the fact that Kilroy's affluent family included a father who was a chemical engineer and an uncle who was a U.S. Customs supervisor in Los Angeles), but had little to do with the downfall of the Hernandez cartel.
"A popular premed 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 Constanzo's own disciples who destroyed him in the end...Needless to say, curious discoveries awaited the police when they next returned to Rancho Santa Elena.
"On April 9, returning from Brownsville, Texas, meeting with Constanzo, cultist Serafin Hernandez drove past a police roadblock without stopping, ignoring the cars that set off in hot pursuit. Hernandez believed el padrino's line about invisiblity, 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 were interrogated through the evening, revealing their tales of black magic, torture, and human sacrifice with a perverse kind of pride."
(ibid, pgs. 109-110)
"The Matamoros cult was first exposed in early April 1989. Police searching the ranch on April discovered drugs and occult paraphernalia. Returning on April 9, authorities arrested four members of the cult, all of who were members of the Hernandez drug family. Two days later, the first bodies were exhumed from Rancho Santa Elena. Some of the victims had been beheaded, while other had been grotesquely disfigured by machete blows to the head. Brains, hearts, lungs and other internal organs had been cut or torn from many of the bodies, and some of these were found stewing in cauldrons in a shed at the ranch. Spines had been ripped from the decomposing corpses to fashion ceremonial necklaces. One victim was reportedly boiled alive; all were mutilated to varying degrees.This triggered the beginning of a massive manhunt in both the United States and Mexico for Constanzo and the remaining members of his cult. U.S. authorities seemingly did everything in their power to sabotage the investigation. At one point a U.S. Customs agent announced to the press a tip the DEA had received that Constanzo was headed back to Miami. This seemingly had been Constanzo's plan, but he quickly scrapped it when the news broke. This was characteristic of U.S. authorities during Constanzo manhunt.
"These victims included the owner and secretary of a company that served as a front for a cocaine-processing lab, an informant for the Federales and his mistress, two federal narcotics officers, three former police officers, and the American nephew of a U.S. Customs agent..."
(Programmed to Kill, David McGowan, pgs. 89-90)
"Although the daily press never caught wind of it - preoccupied as it was with revelations of mass murder and mutilation - the task force hunting the killers was shattered within ten days of its formation. Chances to capture Constanzo in Miami and Malio in Brownsville had been squandered. The U.S. end of the cult investigation crumbled in disarray and the investigators ended up stabbing one another in the back..."
(Buried Secrets, Edward Humes, pg. 290)
"... On May 6, police searching for a missing child are said to have inadvertently stumbled upon the apartment hideaway of Constanzo and four of his followers in Mexico City. Shots were allegedly fired from the apartment, which resulted in nearly 200 police officers virtually instantaneously surrounding the building.The cult member who died with Constanzo was Martin Quintana, Constanzo's 'husband.' Two of three surviving cult members of the Mexico City shootout were Sara Aldrete (who claimed she was being held hostage by Constanzo at this point) and Constanzo's male 'wife,' Omar Orea. Orea would go on to die of AIDS during his trial while Aldrete is presumably still rotting away in some Mexican prison somewhere.
"A ferocious gun battle ensued, with thousands of rounds fired in a forty-five minute exchange. Amazingly though, none of the cultists were shot and only one officer was wounded - and that was in the initial gunfire that came from the apartment. Constanzo and his male lover were reportedly executed in a closet on the orders of the high priest himself. The three survivors were captured alive and charged with a multitude of crimes. Reports immediately surfaced claiming that Constanzo had faked his death, by substituting the body of another cultist. The two bodies in the closet had been riddled with automatic weapon fire, making identification difficult. Mexico City newspapers carried reports of witnesses claiming that two men had been seen fleeing the scene of the shoot-out. The body identified as Constanzo's was claimed by U.S. consular officials - allegedly acting on behalf of Constanzo's mother - and flown to Miami to be promptly cremated."
(Programmed to Kill, David McGowan, pgs. 90-91)
And that is generally where the Constanzo saga ends. Many are happy with this as they prefer a neat ending to such bizarre and horrific events. But there was nothing neat about Constanzo's cult or the ending (or lack thereof). In fact, we've only begun to scratch the surface of the high strangeness surrounding Aldofo Constanzo. In part five of this series I'll discuss more of that strangeness as well as where Constanzo fits into the grand scheme of things. Stay tuned.
Latin American High Weirdness: The Cults Part V
In part four of this series I began examining the life and times of the serial killer, drug smuggler, and some times psychic, Adolfo Constanzo. The Cuban-American Constanzo founded a cult in Mexico in the mid-1980s that quickly attracted Mexican celebrities, drug smugglers and even police officers. By the late 1980s Constanzo had thrown in with the Hernandez drug cartel of Matamoros, where human sacrifice became a regular feature of Constanzo's cult. Interestingly, one of Constanzo's chief recruiting tools for his blood cult was apparently the 1987 horror film The Believers, starring Martin Sheen.
"...gang members told police that they were initiated into the religious ways of the cult through repeated viewings of the movie, The Believers.
"Young Serafin Hernandez Garcia told authorities it was his favorite film.
"There were startling similarities between Constanzo's gang and the evil cult portrayed in The Believers. Most significantly, both groups practiced human sacrifice to attain protection and power from the gods...
"Many video stores along the border said they could barely keep the film in stock once its cult connection was announced. 'You'd think it was a new release, but it came out three years ago,' said one dismayed video store employee...
"Not all video stores joined in the bonanza, however. Once word was out, a leading Texas chain store removed The Believers from the shelves of their video section. Officials said the move was made because the company felt it wasn't right to profit from the nauseating slaughter in Matamoros..."
(Hell Ranch, Clifford L. Linedecker, pgs. 95-96)
More and more I can't help but feel that this film is significant on several levels beyond its connection to the Constanzo cult. In a truly creepy synch, one of the cult leaders is also the head of a prominent children's charity which seemingly is used to recruit victims for the cult's sacrifices. I couldn't help but being reminded of Jerry Sandusky and the whole Penn State sex scandal upon rewatching this film recently. The film's star, Martin Sheen, was in another film, Apocolypse Now, which I attach great esoteric significance too. I've written on it before here.
Twin Peaks one of the finest accounts of magick to ever be released. I've written heavily on the TV series here, the viewing of which I compared to an initiation into an occult society. Previously I had credited Lynch with much of the esoterica that made its way into Peaks but in light of Frost's work on The Believers I may have to revise my opinion a bit. Frost's script demonstrates both an accurate depiction of occult rites in addition to compelling links between the occult and high society.
Were these VIP links part of the appeal the film had amongst Constanzo's followers? And what of the occult sacrifices of children which have darkly dogged the Constanzo cult since their saga began to break in the newspapers? Perhaps the highly realistic depictions of Afro-Carribean religious practices were the sole appeal, as mainstream sources have contended. Whatever the case, there is clearly more to the Constanzo cult than even the tabloids would acknowledge. For the rest of this piece I shall examine some of the more curious aspects the Constanzo cult.
We will start with Constanzo's religion. He is in many instances in the blogosphere (and even by researchers such as David McGowan and Michael Newton) described as a Satanists. His mother and other family members have sworn up and down that Constanzo was nothing but a good Catholic boy. Many have claimed that he practiced Santeria.
"Santeria in its present form was first practiced around 2500 B.C. in what is now known as Nigeria, on the banks of expansive Niger River. It was then that Yoruba tribesmen first developed the nature religion that allowed mortals to approach the gods through worship of natural objects such as shells, feathers, and herbs.Palo Mayombe is the other chief religion Constanzo is thought to have practiced. It is generally described as the dark side of Santeria.
"The Africans had no choice but to work for their new masters, but they didn't really abandon their old gods. Ordered to adopt the white man's religion, many of them outwardly complied and, to their masters, seemed to have adopted Catholicism and its saints. But among themselves, the slaves learned to identify each of the saints with one of their own African gods. So when they were seen by owners apparently praying to a small clay image of Saint Lazarus, for instance, they may instead have been petitioning the ancient Yoruba god and patron of the sick, Babalu-'Aye'. Or is they were kneeling before an image of Christ on the cross, they may have been seeking communion with Oloru'n-Orofi, the Creator Himself.
"The clandestine Santeria ceremonies helped homesick and frightened slaves maintain a strong bond with an Africa thousands of miles away. Gradually, the religion based on old Yoruba beliefs, with a strong meld of Catholicism, spread through the islands, Central and South America. The religion flourished in the New World, and although it maintained many of its secret ways, it gradually moved into the open; today it is widely practiced alongside Catholicism in the islands and in Latin America. Santeria established an especially strong foothold in Cuba and in Brazil, where, in slightly different form, it is known as Macumba, or Umbanda. And increasingly, worship of the old Yoruba gods has moved onto mainland North America and is growing in popularity among Hispanics, blacks, and Anglos.
"Practitioners of Santeria, called Santeros, worship a bewildering array of deities, called Orishas, who are represented in their dual role as Catholic saints and ancient African gods. They can be summoned for help during times of need or crisis. Santeros maintain that the orishas are extremely powerful, and each control specific aspects of life, such as purity, employment, health - and death."
(Hell Ranch, Clifford L. Linedecker, pgs. 91-92)
"Described by experts as an evil black-magic flip side of Santeria, Palo Mayombe is a religion who disciples call for help from Catholic saints, ancient African spirit gods and the tortured souls of the enslaved dead. It has its roots in the impenetrable jungles of the African Congo, and like Santeria, its practice was melded with Catholicism by slaves after reaching the New World.here and here also influenced Constanzo's belief system?
"Some santeros keep two altars in their house - one for Santeria and one for Palo Mayombe. Their approach to natural magic is similar, but there are vast differences between the two beliefs. Santeria reputedly offers its gods the blood of animal sacrifices killed quickly and humanely, while the animal and human sacrifices offered during some Palo Mayombe rituals are deliberately tortured and horribly mutilated, Pain and fear are powerful elements of the rites.
"Sometimes the blood of the sacrificial victim is consumed by participants in ceremonies, acts occasionally followed by other vile forms of necrophilia and cannibalism. Parts of victims are boiled in black n'gangas - similar to the crimson-tinged cauldrons found in the ceremonial hut on the Santa Elena Ranch. Palo Mayombe cultists believe that the spirits of the victims will become trapped in the cauldrons and enslaved, to be called on for protection or to carry out evil. Some Palo Mayombe practitioners prefer that brain tissue be left in skulls used in the obscene acts of necromancy so that the agonized spirits they have summoned can think and act more intelligently."
(ibid, pgs. 96-97)
Probably the two chief advocates of the so-called Sirius tradition are Robert K.G. Temple, an Oriental Studies and Sanskrit major from the University of Pennsylvania and fellow the Royal Astronomical Society, and Kenneth Grant, the former head of the Typhonian Order and Aleister Crowley disciple. Unlikely bedfellows indeed, yet both presented compelling theories of a cult whose belief system revolved around the star Sirius and that has existed in some form or other since at least ancient Sumeria. Temple built his theory off of the traditions of the Dogon people while Grant's was based upon the occult traditions Crowley taught him. Both theories held Africa to be a kind of repository of occult traditions.
I'll allow the great Robert Anton Wilson to sum up Temple's theory:
"Temple claimed that Earth had been visited by an advanced race from a planet in the system of the double star, Sirius, around 4500 B.C. Temple based this assertion on the fact that definite and specific knowledge of the Sirius system can be found in the mythology of the Babylonians, the Egyptians, and some surviving African tribes - knowledge which modern astronomy has only rediscovered with the fantastically delicate instruments of the last two decades...Much of Crowley's occult system revolved around his encounter with a being he dubbed Aiwaz, a being he closely associated with Sirius. He believed that others had been contacted by Aiwaz over the centuries and thus the traditions of Sirius had spread through out the world via the worship of Aiwaz.
"...Temple's evidence... could be interpreted to indicate the arrival of people from Sirius who had come here in a physical space ship around 4500 B.C. According to Temple, information about this had been passed on through various initiatory orders in the ancient Mediterranean and in Africa to the present time..."
(The Cosmic Trigger, pg. 9-10)
"In ancient Egypt, the first anthropomorphic representation to succeed the long procession of zoomorphic deities, was that of Besz, or Vesz, the dwarf god. Albert Churchward notes that 'up to the time of Ptah, or Besz, the human likeness was not given to any god or goddess, and Atum-Horus, or Amen, the son of Ptah, is the earliest divinity in perfect human form.'here. Santeria and Palo Mayombe, the two belief systems of which the bulk of Constanzo's magical practices were based around, both derived from Africa and both were very ancient belief systems. Is it possible that parts of the Sirius tradition were incorporated into these belief systems long ago? I do not know enough about either religion to answer definitively either way to that question. However, I have chronicled the overlap between Freemasonry and Haitian Vodou before here, so perhaps there are ties between Santeria and Palo Mayombe and even more ancient occult traditions. It may even be that Santeria and Palo Mayombe represent the Sirius tradition in its rawest incarnation.
"The representation of Besz, based upon the anatomical peculiarities of a pygmy race of Nilotic origin, is the first effort ever made by man to mould his god in his own image, thus supporting the overwhelming evidence that the human race emerged from lower forms of life in the equatorial regions of Africa. Upon later fanning out, the race gradually swarmed northward along the Nile valley and thence to Mesopotamia where the first colony was founded. This was Sumer, and the dwarf god, Besz, Vesz, or Vass, was probably the original for of Ai-wass; Besz, or Betch, equates with Bitch, Bast, Bastard and Beast."
(The Magical Revival, Kenneth Grant, pg. 57)
As I noted in part IV of this series, the first major ritual slaying attributed to the Constanzo cult was the killing of the Calzada family, one of the prime drug cartels in Mexico at the time. Constanzo sacrificed several prominent members on Walpurgis Night, one of the chief holidays in northern and central European paganism. Is this further evidence that a more ancient occult tradition, possibly one tied to Sirius, influenced Constanzo's cult? This is the only overt evidence that I've found linking Constanzo's practices to European occultism, but I can't help but feel there are much deeper connections.
As to the Constanzo cult itself, it was a strikingly American institution, especially in the higher levels. Of course there was the Miami-born Constanzo himself, as well as several other key followers that hailed from the U.S.
"Though downplayed in most press reports, the Matamoros cult was largely an American entity. Its leader was Adolfo Constanzo, a Cuban-American born in Miami, Florida and raised in Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Its 'high priestess' was Sara Aldrete, an honor student at Southmost, Texas College in Brownsville. One of the cult's top lieutenants, Serafin Hernandez Garcia, also lived in Brownsville and attended Southmost - as a law enforcement major. Serafin's grandfather was the owner of Rancho Santa Elena, where the cult performed its ritual sacrifices and buried many of its victims. Another cult member, drug baron Elio Hernandez Riveria, also hailed from Brownsville. Yet another lived in Weslaco, Texas."I can't help but be reminded of the People's Temple and Jonestown when considering the perception of Constanzo's cult. While they are generally regarded as an Mexican entity in many accounts of the cult, their genesis and leadership was clearly from north of the border. The People's Temple was dominated by African-Americans yet the hierarchy was predominately white. The tragedy that was Jonestown unfolded in Guyana, South America, yet it was a tragedy largely involving Americans.
(Programmed to Kill, David McGowan, pgs. 88-89)
Many of the cult members displayed bizarre, detached behavior. In many cases they were described as emotionless - robotic, even. This was especially true of Elio Hernandez and other cult members who were arrested in the initial wave around Rancho Santa Elena.
"...None of the gang members seemed the least bit concerned. It was the damnedest thing, as if they had been arrested for a traffic ticket. Elio had actually laughed at his interrogators. 'You can't keep me here,' he had declared with complete conviction. 'Soon, I'll be gone.'One of the most vicious of the Matamoros cultists, 'Little' Serafin Hernandez Garcia, was especially unnerving to the police.
"'They weren't worried at all,' Benitez recalled later. 'They thought we couldn't hurt them. They though they were protected.'
"It took a while to convince them otherwise."
(Buried Secrets, pgs. 30-31)
"The interrogation of Little Serafin took five hours. As they listened, the agents sometimes crossed themselves. Some of them had wondered why their superstitious commandante kept strings of garlic, religious candles, amulets, and other charms of good luck in his office. Now they were glad to have them as they listened to young Hernandez's tale unfold.In the case of Sara Aldrete, there was even evidence of a split personality.
"They had heard of black magic all their lives. Now they were seeing it work:
"A man with no soul.
"And Little Serafin did seem cold, without feeling, without any idea that what he had done was morally monstrous."
(ibid, pgs. 34-35)
"But investigators with the Mexico City attorney's office were unsure how to take Sara's confession because the accused 'godmother' of the cult had begun to show disturbing signs of a split personality. As the days wore on, three separate personas became evident - one for the police, one for the television cameras and a third that emerged when she talked to herself.Like both Charles Manson and Jim Jones before him, Constanzo used sex as a key tool in controlling members. As I noted in part four of this series, Constanzo's primary objective in seducing Sara Aldrete was seemingly to gain control over Elio Hernandez, who had been obsessed over Aldrete for some time before either met Constanzo. Later on he forced Aldrete to have sexual relations with Hernandez to ensure the latter's loyalty to the cult. In general, Constanzo seems to have only sought out sexual relations with women when there was some benefit to his cult to be had. Control was also a big factor in his relations with men.
"U.S. Customs Service Agent Oran Neck told a reporter with the Houston Chronicle just days after Sara's arrest that she had lost touch with reality. He said that she was demonstrating a dual personality..."
(Hell Ranch, Clifford L. Linedecker, pg. 142)
"He flew First Class, drove Lincoln continentals, gold Mercedes and sports cars, and wore diamond, sapphire, and ruby rings on every finger of both hands and gold necklaces around his neck. He purchased expensive jewelry and clothes for his lovers from the best stores, and twice in Brownsville he bought the same boyfriend $10,000 worth of elegant clothing in shopping sprees. He took them on trips to famous vacation resorts at Acapulco and Las Hadas. He wrote them poetry and love letters, filled with passionate promises of unending fidelity, then in a few months discarded them for new lovers. He was a social butterfly, and he was always the dominate member in his romantic relationships just as he was in business matters. Even after breakups, his cast off lovers remained mesmerized by his charm and charisma. And gradually he put together a following of lovers, ex-lovers and other privileged middle or upper-class young men who were personally devoted to him as they were to acquiring riches from the lucrative drug trade."
(ibid, pg. 28)
I've found no evidence that Constanzo was engaged in pedophilia, but it would not be out of character. Constanzo became sexually active in Miami's gay community when still a teenager and may have engaged in sex relations with much older men then. Later on, in Mexico, he seems to have primarily have sought very young men for lovers. Omar Orea, Constanzo's 'wife,' was barely 18 when he was seduced by Constanzo.
In general, Constanzo's ties to children (or lack therefore of) have drawn much speculation. Perhaps most disturbing of all the accusations against the cult were those of child sacrifice.
"As the investigation proceeded, reports on the case grew more disturbing. Police reported finding blood-spattered altars in the homes of many of the suspected cultists, and Mexico City newspapers openly speculated that human infants had been ritually sacrificed by the group. Some reporters opined that babies might even have been bred specifically for that purpose. Michael Newton has reported that from 1987-1989, there were seventy-four unsolved ritual homicides in Mexico City; fourteen of those victims were infants."I'll remind the reader that various members of Constanzo's cult were obsessed with The Believers, a horror film revolving around a blood cult active in New York City. The plot revolves around a series of child sacrifices that the cult engages in to secure prosperity. Did Constanzo's followers possibly engage in similar rites to secure their lucrative drug trade? We shall likely never no.
(Programmed to Kill, David McGowan, pg. 91)
And here I shall wrap things up for now. In next week's installment I shall finish up on Constanzo with several more mysterious ties between the Godfather of Matamoros and Charles Manson and Jim Jones. Stay tuned.
Latin American High Weirdness: The Cults Part 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.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.
"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."
"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.Even more notorious members of Constanzo's cult remain at large.
"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)
"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."
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, it's 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."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.
(ibid, pgs. 402-403)
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.
Comment: The "Kool-Aid" myth has been disproven. Everyone at Jonestown was shot dead.
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.Crowley disciple Kenneth Grant associated the Gnostics with the Sirius tradition.
"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)
"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 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.
(The Magical Revival, Kenneth Grant, pg. 70)
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.
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.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.
"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 any 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)
Thus, we have three prominent cult leaders, all of whom had ties to the CIA. Were the Manson and Constanzo cults and the People's 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.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.
"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)
"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)
Was Constanzo's cult part of a nationwide order? Was it linked to the Manson Family and the People's 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.