A man in Bridgeport, Connecticut, was arrested in connection with human bodies that were exhumed from their graves, officials said on Tuesday.
Worcester police detectives assisted Bridgeport police were carrying out a drug investigation in the home of Felix “Cuba” Delgado, 40.
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There, officials found what might be “be linked to the theft of skeletal remains from two mausoleums in Hope Cemetery, Worcester” in Massachusetts, the Worcester Police Department said in a statement.
“The evidence will be forwarded to the CT Medical Examiner’s Office for examination in an attempt to determine if they are the remains stolen from Hope Cemetery.”
The Boston Herald reported that Delgado is a self-professed high priest of Santeria and was using the remains to conduct “dark rituals.”
Police found two human skulls, rooster bodies, miniature coffins, and other items.
“The stench was horrible. It smelled like death and formaldehyde,” police Capt. Armando Perez told the Herald. “I’ve been doing this for 33 years and I’ve never seen anything like that. It was shocking.”
Perez explained what he found in Delgado’s basement.
“As you walked down the stairs, you entered this room with a huge altar,” Perez said, adding that “there were five other altars and little coffins and chicken carcasses, blood, miniature figurines and strange symbols down there.”
Perez said that people in the neighborhood are afraid of Delgado due to his status in the religion.
“Delgado is a high priest in the Santeria religion and practices the dark arts,” Perez told the CT Post. “People in the neighborhood are either from Puerto Rico or the West Indies, where this religion is practiced and they were afraid to say anything against Delgado for fear he would put a curse on them.”
He was arrested as a fugitive from justice from Worcester, Massachusetts, where he’s wanted on eight counts of disinterment of bodies.
It’s unclear if he’s represented by an attorney.
A Hartford man in December pleaded not guilty to stealing skeletal remains from a mausoleum. He told police he used them in Santeria ceremonies.
Santeria mixes Roman Catholicism with a traditional African faith. Scholars say it was imported to Cuba through slaves from Nigeria’s Yoruba tribe.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.