ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - A new trend seen in movies, Mexican drug cartels stuffing pot and other drugs inside statues of Catholic saints, is now emerging in Albuquerque.
Friday NM State Police foiled a drug smuggling ring from Mexico to Albuquerque. They confiscated hundreds of pounds of pot, but it's what they found among the drugs, a token the dealers were hoping would protect them, that ties the deal to Mexican Drug Cartel.
Inside a working propane tank officers pulled out 300 bricks of marijuana. They found the tank after stopping a driver for a not wearing his seat belt on I-40 near Moriarty. Officer were suspicious because they say the driver was acting weird. A drug sniffing drug led police to the pot, and nestled along the bricks they found something strange.
It was a prayer card of St. Jude. For Catholics the saint is the patron of lost causes. Police say drug dealers are praying to him to protect their illegal activity.
"They like to use a lot of saints," said NM State Police Lt. Rudy Mora. "Especially St. Jude. He is kind of known for being patron saint of the poor."
Saint Jude's not alone. Drug cartel are also adopting the Santo Nino de Atocha. He's the patron of travelers, and the thought is he'll provide holy protection to smugglers and those crossing the border illegally. They're also adopting St. Ramone the patron of secrets to cover them in silence, and even the Virgin de Guadalupe, the patron of forgiveness.
Faithful Catholics look to the saints as human examples of how to live holy lives. They say they're appalled the beloved patrons are being used in such a blasphemous way.
"Society has already taken spirituality and twisted it in a way that takes God out of it, and something like this just completely contorts what God would want to see," said Catholic Zach Pavlik.
Police say they also use the saints to their advantage. They look for their images on vehicles, clothing and even packages to help tip them off to the next big bust.
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