HIDALGO, Mexico - The drug war in Mexico has forced the Catholic Church to confront allegations it accepts donations from drug lords.
In the tiny community of Tezontle in Hidalgo, Mexico there is a new building with an enormous silver cross.
A plaque on the wall identified the benefactor as Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano. He is a top leader of the Zetas which is one of Mexico’s most feared cartels.
He’s a native son who is a wanted man on both sides of the border, but people in the town say they know nothing of the generous donor.
Critics say the problem extends to the Catholic church hierarchy when it comes to drug money donations.
A spokesman for the Archdiocese in Mexico said the church warns parishes not to accept dirty money even if it’s to pay for good deeds.
The problem dates back decades.
Among the allegations, some priests accept big fees to perform baptisms, weddings and other ceremonies for drug lords.
Several media organizations in Mexico reported a priest married drug lord Chapo Guzman in a mountain hideaway.
There have also been historic ties between the Catholic church and crime families in other countries including the U.S. and Italy.
As the death toll from the drug war rises, the church is facing increasing pressure to crackdown on parishes that accept blood money.
Mexico’s federal government began investigating the financing for the Tezontle chapel in October.