U.S. Border Patrol and Texas FBI joined forces to arrest a Juárez woman known as "La Chely" for her alleged involvement in at least five homicides in Juárez that included a shocking ritual.

According to a news release from the FBI El Paso Office, La Chely was known for her "extreme brutality such as dismembering bodies, removing hearts, and placing the hearts in front of “Santa Muerte” altars and statutes".

La Chely
Chihuahua State Investigations Agency

Mexican officials say they have enough evidence to hold for trial Michelle Angelica Pineda, aka "La Chely" who is 22-years-old. Authorities identified Pineda as a member of the Artistas Asesinos (assassin artists) gang known in Juárez for utilizing extreme violence on rivals.

The FBI’s Safe Street Task Force on February 15 arrested Pineda in an El Paso, Texas, motel room where she was found with drugs and weapons. One of the main things that stood out of this investigation, was the offerings to Santa Muerte.

What is Santa Muerte?

La Santa Muerte, which translates to "Holy Death" or "Saint Death" in English, is a folk saint and spiritual figure that has gained popularity in Mexican and Mexican-American cultures. However, La Santa Muerte is not an officially canonized saint. In fact, the Catholic church and the Mexican government have both rejected La Santa Muerte following.


La Santa Muerte is often depicted as a skeletal figure, resembling the Grim Reaper, and is associated with death. Her worship is diverse and can include rituals, prayers, and the use of various symbolic items such as candles, incense, and statues. However, blood sacrifices and actual human heart offerings are not known to be part of the rituals; which makes you wonder- why was La Chely offering human hearts to La Santa Muerte?

I hope this clears up some confusion on La Santa Muerte.

Although I know it's a serious case, I think you need to see the comments on this video- which was compiled by Stephanie Valle of our sister station KVIA in El Paso.

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