A Santeria priest accused of stealing human remains from a Massachusetts mausoleum was arrested as a fugitive from justice in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where investigators found human skulls, bones and bloody altars in his apartment, according to police.
Police arrested Felix "Cuba" Delgado, 40, as part of a drug investigation Tuesday. Delgado is the second Santeria priest in Connecticut accused of stealing human remains in Massachusetts, although it's unclear if the cases are connected.
Bridgeport Violent Crime Reduction and FBI Safe Streets Task Force investigators searched Delgado's Hallet Street apartment after receiving information he was selling heroin and prescription pills from his residence, according to police.
Delgado was wanted in a parallel investigation out of Worcester, where he's accused of breaking into a 112-year-old mausoleum. Police said the caskets had been removed or forced open. Bodies were also taken out, but police said small bones were left behind.
He was charged in Bridgeport as a fugitive from justice. It's not clear if he has an attorney.
Police said Delgado was reported to be a high priest of the Santeria religion who was keeping the remains of humans and roosters in his basement. Santeria is an Afro-Cuban religion developed from the beliefs and customs of the Yoruba people and incorporates some elements of the Catholic religion.
"I heard a bunch of witchcraft stuff going on," Joshua Colon, Delgado's neighbor, told NBC Connecticut.
Neighbors, largely from Puerto Rico and the West Indies, where Santeria is practiced, believed Delgado was involved in the dark arts and were afraid to complain for fear he would curse them, police said.
"It's spooky that it's right next door," Colon said.
According to police, investigators found two human skulls and a "long" bone in Delgado's basement that were "configured in a 'Palo Mayombe' type alter, which is a sub-culture within the Santeria religion."
They also discovered carved figurines, candles, antlers, flowers, miniature coffins, rum, religious statues and carcasses of chickens strewn about his basement. Chalk drawings of symbols like stars, the moon and a skull were observed on the cellar floor, police said.
Bridgeport police seized the remains, which will be taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
Worcester police obtained a warrant for Delgado's arrest charging him with eight counts of body disinternment. Bridgeport police were holding him in custody on a $125,000 bond ahead of his arraignment Wednesday and his extradition to Worcester.
The district attorney's office for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has coordinated his extradition with the court.
Delgado's arrest is the second time Santeria has made headlines recently in Connecticut.
Former Santeria priest Amador Medina, 32, was charged after police found bones in his Hartford apartment. Authorities said Medina stole the bones from a mausoleum in Worcester and used them for Santeria ceremonies. Medina has said he bought the bones from someone else.
It's unclear if Medina and Delgado are believed to have stolen from the same mausoleum or whether their cases are connected. Worcester police previously reported burglaries from two mausoleums.
The Cultural Association of African Religions Babalú Aye, a group connected to Santeria, has said followers of the religion do not recognize the use of human bones in their practice. Medina's membership was revoked.