MEXICO CITY—A teen girl celebrated her 15th birthday in Mexico by posing for a photo in front of the house that belonged to a group of drug dealing, Satan-worshipping serial killers from the 80s.
Dubbed the “Narcosatanist House” in Mexican media, the now-abandoned home in the border city of Matamoros was connected to more than a dozen ritual murders committed by cult leaders Adolfo Constanzo and Sara Aldrete and their followers, including the death of a U.S. student on spring break in 1989.
The photoshoot in front of the graffiti-covered house was taken to celebrate the teen's quinceañera, a popular tradition in Mexico and other parts of Latin America similar to a Sweet 16 party. Generally, quinceañera photoshoots feature the 15-year-old girls in lavish dresses in bright colors like pink, yellow or turquoise. The Matamoros teen chose black instead.
After being posted by the event coordinator, Carmen Colmenero, the photo spread quickly on social media platforms and drew a wide range of responses. Comments on the event planner’s page were mostly positive.
“The coolest quinceañera!!!” wrote one. “Pretty dress, cute quinceañera, indeed a place out of the ordinary. Although I wouldn't have set a foot there, I admire your courage,” wrote another.
Comments on news articles about the photoshoot weren't so kind. Some hurled insults at her and her family, while one commentator pointed out that the girl's parents paid for the party and appeared to agree to a photo “in a place where torture and other crimes took place.”
Others were more diplomatic. “If the girl likes that dark vibe or whatever, it's fine, no one is the same as anyone else, and we should stop complaining about everything,” one comment read, with more than 100 positive emoji responses.
The house, located less than a mile from the bridge that connects Matamoros to the Texas city of Brownsville, was linked to one of the most notorious murder sprees in Mexican history.
Known as Los Narcosatánicos, the group killed at least 16 victims and are suspected of possibly 10 more murders during a three-year period ending in 1989.
The Narcosatanists formed when the Hernández family, a Matamoros-based drug dealing clan, met a Cuban living in Mexico named Adolfo Constanzo. Constanzo apparently convinced the family that he could reverse their recent bad luck in the trafficking business through black magic.
Aldrete, a seemingly mild-mannered student who crossed the bridge daily to attend classes at a university in Brownsville, got pulled into the group through her relationship with a drug dealer who was linked to the Hernández family. She quickly became a top leader. The group called Constanzo “El Padrino,” the Godfather, while Aldrete was known as “La Padrina”—the Godmother.
The two reportedly developed a made-up, hodge-podge cult that included elements of religions of the African diaspora that are common in Latin America like Palo, Santeria, and Vodou. But the pair added their own deadly twist.
The group abducted people from the streets of Matamoros and the surrounding municipalities, and then took them to an isolated ranch about 20 miles outside the city. They would murder the victims as sacrifices and boil their brains, hearts, lungs and testicles in a cauldron. The cult would drink the witch's brew in a belief that it would make the gang invincible and protect its drug business from the cops.
The disappearances went largely unnoticed by local media and authorities until they abducted a U.S. citizen. Mark Kilroy, a junior pre-med major at the University of Texas, disappeared in March 1989 while on spring break at South Padre Island, a popular party spot located just off the Texas coast outside of Brownsville. One evening, Kilroy and his friends decided to cross over the bridge to party in Mexico. In the early morning hours, Kilroy vanished.
An international spotlight focused on Matamoros, which eventually contributed to the arrest of a trafficker connected to the Hernández family, who then told authorities about the ranch. They quickly started discovering bodies, including Kilroy's, along with blood-covered machetes and abandoned cauldrons.
The day the bodies were discovered, Constanzo and Aldrete fled Matamoros along with a couple of followers. They were found a few weeks later in a Mexico City apartment. Constanzo, 26, reportedly died at the scene after asking a follower to kill him before he could be taken alive. Aldrete, who was then 24, was arrested and remains imprisoned in Mexico today along with other members of the group, although she maintains her innocence and claims she was tortured into confessing.
While the abandoned house in Matamoros where the photoshoot took place was not the site of the group's most gruesome murders, it's reportedly where Constanzo and others lived during the murdering spree. Over the years, it's gained a haunted house mystique in Matamoros, with numerous videos online of people exploring the building at night, hoping and fearing at the same time that they will encounter the remnants of the Narcosatanists’ black magic.