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Drug Lords

Inside Mexico's narco churches.
Brian Anderson
Κείμενο Brian Anderson

Los Zetas crime syndicate may be one of the more tech-savvy of Mexico's drug cartels, building and operating its very own DIY cartel radio network. But the gang, known for its brazen, intimidating acts of violence, is fulfilling another, more deep-seated mission: It's building churches.

That's if we're to believe some of the plaques and pew-inscriptions marking a growing number of Catholic churches that dot rural Mexico. One of these, a chapel in Tezontle, Hidalgo, is adorned with a bronze marker that reportedly sings the high praises of its donor, Heriberto Lazcano, the Zetas head (maybe) offed by the Mexican navy last October. (Lazcano, known as "El Lazca," is believed to have been connected to some 30,000 murders, some of which were fed to the guy's personal collection of lions and tigers, according to Mexican authorities.)

"Lord, hear my prayer," the sign reads, referring to Psalm 143. "Listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.” The plaque goes on to state that the chapel was erected in honor of Pope John Paul II.

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