Here are some more links showing the organized aspect of this cult. Unlike common occult practices, in which a young person might dabble and then move on, the Santa Muerte is a gateway to serious gang enslavement and so an uninformed youngster trying to fit in by getting a tattoo that he thinks is just Mexican Catholic may unwittingly expose himself to demands of the organized gangs. If the cult successfully spreads the belief among its members that you cannot leave, then that is the same as Scientology "fair-gaming" someone.
] In an even more macabre twist, however, certain instances have been seen as intertwined with a group's belief system, performed in ritual fashion to fulfill religious or spiritual demands. This suggests that the emergent Mexican narcocultos that are evolving may further increase drug war violence to new levels of brutality heretofore unseen.
Here is an extensive paper about this cult's seriousness:
]The origin of the cult is uncertain; it has only been expanding recently. The cult appears to be closely associated with crime, criminals, and those whose lives are directly affected by crime. Criminals seem to identify with Santa Muerte and call upon the saint for protection and power, even when committing crimes. They will adorn themselves with her paraphernalia and render her respect that they do not give to other spiritual entities
There is, at least in English, a notable lack of academic literature about the Santa Muerte cult. However, due to its macabre charm, the cult and its devotees have received considerable attention in Mexican, Latin American, U.S., and even international news media. It also appears in Mexican government press bulletins, ranging from state-funded Anthropological studies of the cult itself to public arrest records concerning individuals connected to the cult. There are also a few internet sites maintained by cult adherents as well as published handbooks of cult rituals and traditions that are used by cult practitioners.