Jesús Malverde

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Jesús Malverde
Jesús Malverde image
Angel of the Poor, Generous Bandit, The Narco Saint
Born15 January 1870
Sinaloa, Mexico
Died3 May 1909 (age 39)
Sinaloa, Mexico
Venerated inSinaloa; Folk Catholicism
Major shrineCuliacan, Mexico
Feast3 May
PatronageMexican drug cartels, drug trafficking, outlaws, bandits, robbers, thieves, smugglers, people in poverty

Jesús Malverde (pronounced [xeˈsus malˈ] "bad-green Jesus"), possibly born as Jesús Juarez Mazo (1870–1909), sometimes known as the "Cjuba Lord", "angel of the poor",[1] or the "narco-saint", is a folklore hero in the Mexican state of Sinaloa.

He was of Yoreme and Spanish heritage. He is a "Robin Hood" figure who was supposed to have stolen from the rich to give to the poor.[2] He is celebrated as a folk saint by some in Mexico and the United States, particularly among drug traffickers.[3]


The existence of Malverde is not historically verified.[4] He is said to have been born Jesús Juarez Mazo, growing up under the rule of Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz, whose local supporter Francisco Cañedo ran Sinaloa. He is supposed to have become a bandit after the death of his parents, which he attributed to their poverty. During Malverde’s youth, railroads arrived. He witnessed his community undergo rapid socioeconomic transformation. The profits of hacienda agriculture were enjoyed by the few elite, while the vast majority of the population, the peasantry, faced even greater economic strain. Jesús Malverde is said to have been a carpenter, tailor or railway worker.[5] It was not until his parents died of either hunger or a curable disease (depending on the version of the story) that Jesús Malverde turned to a life of banditry. His nickname Malverde (evil-green) was given by his wealthy victims, deriving from an association between green and misfortune.[2]

According to the mythology of Malverde's life, Cañedo derisively offered Malverde a pardon if he could steal the governor's sword (or in some versions his daughter). The bandit succeeded, but this only pushed Cañedo into hunting him down. He is supposed to have died in Sinaloa on May 3, 1909. Accounts of his death vary. In some versions he was betrayed and killed by a friend. In others he was shot or hanged by local police.[2] His body was supposed to have been denied proper burial, being left to rot in public as an example.[citation needed]

Writer Sam Quinones says that there is no evidence that the Malverde of the legend ever lived, and that the story probably emerged by mixing material from the lives of two documented Sinaloan bandits, Heraclio Bernal (1855–1888) and Felipe Bachomo (1883–1916).[6] Bernal was a thief from southern Sinaloa who later became an anti-government rebel. Cañedo offered a reward for his capture, and he was betrayed and killed by former colleagues. Bachomo was an indigenous Indian rebel from northern Sinaloa who was captured and executed.[citation needed]


Jesús Malverde culture.

Since Malverde's supposed death, he has earned a Robin Hood-type image, making him popular among Sinaloa's poor highland residents. His bones were said to have been unofficially buried by local people, who threw stones onto them, creating a cairn. Throwing a stone onto the bones was thus a sign of respect, and gave the person the right to make a petition to his spirit.[2] His earliest alleged miracles involved the return of lost or stolen property.[6] His shrine is in Culiacan, capital of Sinaloa. Every year on the anniversary of his death a large party is held at Malverde's shrine. The original shrine was built over in the 1970s, amid much controversy, and a new shrine was built on nearby land.[7] The original site, which became a parking lot, has since been revived as an unofficial shrine, with a cairn and offerings.[8]

The outlaw image has caused him to be adopted as the "patron saint" of the region's illegal drug trade, and the press have thus dubbed him "the narco-saint."[9] However, his intercession is also sought by those with troubles of various kinds, and a number of supposed miracles have been locally attributed to him, including personal healings and blessings. According to Patricia Price, "Narcotrafickers have strategically used Malverde's image as a 'generous bandit' to spin their own images as Robin Hoods of sorts, merely stealing from rich drug-addicted gringos and giving some of their wealth back to their Sinaloa hometowns, in the form of schools, road improvements, community celebrations."[2]

Spiritual supplies featuring the visage of Jesús Malverde are available in the United States as well as in Mexico. They include candles, anointing oils, incense, sachet powders, bath crystals, soap and lithographed prints suitable for framing.[citation needed]

In culture[edit]

A brewery in Guadalajara introduced a new beer, named Malverde, into the Northern Mexico market in late 2007.[10] A likeness of Malverde appears in an episode of the TV show Breaking Bad.[11] Japanese rapper A-Thug released a mixtape named « God MALVERDE » after him in 2017.[citation needed]

In the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico, season 1, episode 7, the character Neto relates the story of Jesus Malverde to the man who killed his son before ordering him to be killed.[citation needed]

There is a 2020 Telemundo series featuring Jesus Malverde. It is a dramatized account of different events in his life.

18. February 2022 the Norwegian band El Cartel will release a song called "Carnal Mazo", inspired of Jesus Malverde.

See also[edit]

  • Chucho el Roto, a Mexican bandit who stole from the rich and shared with the poor
  • Gauchito Gil, another Latin American Folk Saint who stole from the rich to give to the poor
  • Nazario Moreno González, a Mexican drug lord sometimes seen as a Folk Saint or Messiah
  • Santa Muerte, another Mexican Folk Saint associated with drug cartels and criminality


  1. ^ Park, Jungwon; Sujeto Popular entre el Bien y el Mal: Imágenes Dialécticas de “Jesús Malverde”. University of Pittsburgh
  2. ^ a b c d e Patricia L. Price, Dry Place: Landscapes of Belonging and Exclusion, pp.153–157.
  3. ^ Penhaul, Karl. "Gang triggerman honored with'Scarface' hat." CNN. 16 April 2009. Retrieved on 16 April 2009.
  4. ^ grupo reforma
  5. ^ Kingsbury, Kate and Chesnut, R. Andrew 2019, ‘Narcosaint’ Jesús Malverde Miraculously Materializes at Trial of El Chapo Guzman by Kingsbury and Chesnut, Global Catholic Review
  6. ^ a b Quinones, Sam, True Tales from Another Mexico: The Lynch Mob, the Popsicle Kings, Chalino, and the Bronx, UNM Press, 2001, p.227
  7. ^ Quinones, Sam, Jesus Malverde, Frontline.
  8. ^ Roig-Franzia, Manuel (22 July 2007). "In the Eerie Twilight, Frenetic Homage To a Potent Symbol". Washington Post. Retrieved 29 July 2021.
  9. ^ The Oregonian: Hidden Powerhouses Underlie Meth's Ugly Spread 10/23/2004
  10. ^ Castillo, E. Eduardo, Associated Press (7 December 2007). "Mexican company launches beer in honor of unofficial drug saint". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 11 February 2008.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ "Meet Jesús Malverde, the patron saint of Mexico's drug cartels". 3 September 2015.

Further reading[edit]

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