Meet Jesus Malverde, the patron saint of drug dealers. Legend has it that he was a Mexican Robin Hood figure – a handsome moustachioed bandito who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Some say he was born in Sinaloa state in 1888 and hanged in 1909. Others say he didn't exist at all but is a conglomeration of stories about local bandits. Either way, a cult has grown around Jesus Malverde and he is worshipped as a narco-saint.
There is a chapel devoted to Malverde in the city of Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state. Devotees kneel and pray at the altar to request his help with their troubles. Various miracles have been attributed to him. Believers light candles and leave dollar bills and photographs as thanks for his help. Some go further, having commemorative plaques engraved or hiring musicians to sing for him.
Of course, the chapel has a shop as well, where devotees and tourists can buy T-shirts, caps, posters, massage oils and bath salts featuring images of the patron saint of drug lords, often surrounded by marijuana leaves.
The cult of Malverde is intertwined into the region's illicit drug trade. Some Sinaloa state drug lords use Malverde's image as a 'generous bandit' to portray themselves as Robin Hoods of sorts, taking money from wealthy American drug addicts and giving some of their wealth back to local people, in the form of schools and community improvements.
The state is home to the notorious Sinaloa cartel, which was run by Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, considered to be most powerful drug trafficker in the world until he was captured (and recaptured after several escapes).