A Spanish exorcist who had ordered a mass exorcism of the entire country of Mexico in 2015 is warning that recent murders in the country could be part of a new wave of Satanic killings aimed at turning victims into vampires. Father Jose Antonio Fortea in the official exorcist of the diocese of Alcala de Henares in Madrid. Well-known for his outspoken views on demonic possession and Satanic influences, Father Fortea points to cases such as the recent murder of 24-year-old Edwin Juarez Palma in warning of the rise of such cases in secular societies. Palma was reportedly strangled, beaten, and mutilated with a broken bottle at a cyber cafe known as "Freak Shop" in Chihuahua, Mexico. The body was later found abandoned in a street wrapped in plastic bags, apparently to disguise it as a drug-related murder.
The three men and one women who have been arrested for the killing are reportedly self-professed Satanists belonging to a sect known as the "Sons of Baphomet." They chose Edwin Palma due to his fascination with vampires and persuaded him to take part in a ritual intended to transform him into a vampire. Palma was apparently unaware that he would be killed by the cultists.
Father Fortea warns that the "vampire fad is very close to Satanism" and that "the more a society abandons the ways of God, the more cases of Satanism. The more a nation is Christian, there are fewer cases of devil worship." He blames the current rash of Satanic crimes on the cult of Santa Muerte or "Sacred Death" which is on the rise in Mexico and the southwestern United States. Despite the active opposition of the Catholic church which regards the cult as "blasphemous", worship of the folk saint, believed to be inspired by pre-Columbian beliefs has grown to millions of followers. Even though Santa Muerte is a personification of death, believers associate the saint with healing and protection in the afterlife. Santa Muerte is also seen as a protector of Mexico's sexual minorities who often feel outcast in society.
The cult of Santa Muerte is also popular with many of Mexico's criminal gangs with images being found in numerous drug houses in Mexico and the United States. Most worshippers are law-abiding however and allegations of links between Santa Muerte and Satanic cults seem exaggerated. There is also no indication that Edwin Juarez Palma's murder was linked to Santa Muerte or that his death is part of a greater trend. The murder has generated outrage from friends and family of the dead man and the cultists responsible face up to forty years in prison if convicted.