Grisly Saint Death cult killings over 3-year span lead to charges filed against 8 suspects in Mexico

Images of the "Santa Muerte" (Holy Death), are seen at the shrine in honor of the goddess at the Iztapalapa shantytown in Mexico City Feb. 4, 2011. AFP/Getty Images

(AP) HERMOSILLO, Mexico - Mexican prosecutors have formally charged eight people in the grisly cult slayings of two 10-year-old boys and a 55-year-old woman.

The suspects are mainly members of an extended family whose purported leader has said they killed the victims as an offering to "Santa Muerte," or Saint Death, between 2009 and 2012.

The idol is usually depicted as a robed skeleton, and her followers include criminals and drug traffickers.

Sonora state prosecutors' spokesman Jose Larrinaga says the eight will face charges of first-degree homicide, robbery, conspiracy, corrupting minors and illegal burial.

The charges carry sentences ranging up to 50 years, and sentences would be served concurrently. A 15-year-old suspect will be held at a youth facility until she is 18 and then face trial.

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