Ruben Hernandez, a former used car dealer from Downey, CA, was today sentenced to a dozen years in the klink for defrauding banks of about $4 million in home-buying fraud schemes. He was evidently someone who practiced a bastardized form of "applied magic" derived from West African traditions. The particular craft he practiced (reports say it included elements of Palo Mayombe) has become popular among Latin American drug dealers and criminals who wish to exact revenge upon enemies, or protect against prison time. At any rate, the guy's spells weren't very good. Snip from LA Times:
"Investigators went into one of the bedrooms, and it was a shrine with a cross and all kinds of skeletons and stuff," said Eugene Hanrahan, a deputy L.A. County district attorney. "The star attractions were these three effigy dolls dunked upside down in this brown liquid. One of them had my name, and the other two had the names of investigators."
Each doll had pins in its eyes, he said. Attached to the dolls was the case number in the criminal charges. Hanrahan said that inside the home on Thorndike Road investigators also found their names wrapped around a baseball bat.
(...) The prosecutor said Hernandez later admitted creating the dolls of his enemies but claimed the "pins were a form of spiritual acupuncture" to make them see that he was a good man.
With the trial finally over, Hanrahan said it's safe to report the apparent spells did not work. But he wasn't always that sure.Those familiar with vodun and all her offshoots will see familiar elements in Hernandez' shrine, above, photographed by investigators. That one red, black, and white carved figure looks like a manifestation of Eshu-Eleggua, with the burnt cigars and cigarettes as offerings nearby. I see other elements in the photos that look like they belong to Ogun and Ochossi, and I'm going to guess that the image above was shot just behind the primary entrance to Hernandez' home (or altar room), as shrines for these three deities are generally placed near doors/entranceways.
"Around the time of the preliminary hearing my left foot swelled up. It became very painful.... But it later fixed itself," said Hanrahan. "I didn't think about it at the time, until we discovered the shrine."
Just as some crazy people use Christianity to justify crimes, other wackos pick and choose elements from Afro-diaspora traditions, and apply them to whatever sociopathic behavior suits them. Don't take away from this story that the ancestral traditions of West Africa are all about crackheads, fraudsters, or dunking needled dolls upside down in poo-water to smite motherfuckers.
Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: email@example.com.