MEXICO CITY -- Police searched a house and a condominium owned by the alleged leader of a drug ring linked to 15 cult slayings near the U.S. border but found no evidence of more killings.
Police said Wednesday they found altars, candles and other items used in occult rituals in the Mexico City apartment of Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo and in a two-story house believed owned by him in the city's outskirts.
'We have no evidence of any killing so far at his alleged apartment and house here,' said Vicente Mendoza, spokesman for the attorney general's office.
Hector Aguilar Chagoya, another spokesman, said Mexican authorities have begun a nationwide search for Constanzo, although there was no indication he was in the country. 'We have not had any success in tracing him so far,' Chagoya said. 'We have reinforced vigilance across the country.'
Constanzo, 26, was believed to have flown from from McAllen, Texas, to Mexico City on April 10, then to Miami on April 11, the day police found the first of 15 bodies in a series of graves on two ranches near the border town of Matamoros, Mexico.
Constanzo, the alleged 'padrino,' or godfather, of the drug cult, is accused of directing the slayings of the 15 and also mutilations, in which the victims' brains and blood were removed and boiled in an iron caldron.
He also allegedly directed the group's drug trafficking operation, which is believed to have smuggled a ton of marijuana into the United States each week.
Other alleged cult members already in custody told authorities they believed the human sacrifices would protect them from arrest.
Chagoya said a search of both the condominium and the house in Mexico City turned up no additional evidence of killings. 'There is nothing that leads us to believe any killing (occurred) there,' he said. 'We just saw altars and other Satanic ritualistic things, but there was no trace of blood.'
Moises Almanza, who lives in the 12-floor luxury apartment building in Mexico City's Colonia Roma section, said Constanzo and two other men who lived in the 10th-floor apartment 'were very quiet, they never said much to anybody.'
'The only thing is that they did wear a lot of flashy jewelry, gold chains, rings,' said Almanza, adding that Constanzo had paid $50,000 cash for the apartment.
'We did wonder how three young boys who apparently didn't study or work or anything had a Lincoln Continental and a Mercedes-Benz,' Almanza said. 'They were furnishing their apartment with very luxurious furniture ... a gigantic mirror.'
The Houston Post, meanwhile, reported that the drug ring has been linked to $20 million worth of cocaine that was seized in a drug raid in June 1988 at a Houston home.
Besides the cache of cocaine, Houston police found an altar and cult paraphernalia at the residence, the Post said in a copyright story.
Houston police said Constanzo had made several purchases in Houston in the past and said they were investigating whether he might be hiding in the area.
Although U.S. authorities are skeptical, Mexico City police have said a woman believed to be Constanzo's lover, Sara Aldrete Villareal, 24, may have been killed in Mexico City.
Aldrete, believed to be the 'witch' of the drug cult, apparently did not accompany Constanzo and two others on the flight from Mexico City to Miami, and her purse and other belongings were found at Constanzo's condominium, Mexican officials said.
A woman identified as Maria Teresa was arrested Monday in the apartment where Aldrete's belongings were found.
Police had believed that Aldrete had been on the run with Constanzo since the bodies were discovered in Matamoros last week.