We asked Austin police if they’ve seen any ritualistic killings.
“Not yet,” said an undercover Austin police officer.
In two separate incidents here in Austin, the names of a judge and probation officer were found written on a piece of paper.
"Their hope is to actually have the officer or detective or what not - something bad happen to them and they might be able to go free from their cases," the officer explained.
Local police here in Central Texas confirm the growing presence of Santa Muerte.
"Yes, we've encountered them from a task force perspective many, many times in the Austin area. It's not uncommon," said Hector Gomez, with the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force. Gomez said shrines he’s seen during fugitive operations are filled with various gifts in exchange for protection from law enforcement.
The undercover Austin police officer KVUE spoke with says they come across the shrines during investigations involving Mexican drug cartels, in particular, La Familia, also known as Knights Templar.
In a KVUE Defenders Special Report report, we tracked how the Cartel flows into Austin through the Laredo.
Knights Templar originate from the mountains in Michoacan. The cartel is known for its gruesome ritualistic killings.
Dr. Bunker suggests looking at the gifts offered for insight on the types of prayers.
"...an altar containing blood, bones, burned plastic police figurines, and black statuettes and candles will determine different worshiper intent than one containing a rainbow statuette, blue and bone candles, and offerings of various types of fruit,” he said.
Almonte said it's important for authorities to understand how people, especially criminals are worshipping Santa Muerte. He tells them to “use extra caution and keep your guard up."