Mexico City, July 2009. Mexico's drug and gang culture has a strong religious streak.Thousands of devotees seen here attend a mass for Santa Muerte, Saint Death, a mythicalfigure condemned by the Catholic Church but embraced by many poor and criminalelements. This gathering is outside a shrine in Tepito, a neighborhood famous for itsstreet markets brimming with pirated and stolen merchandise. It's home to the most popular Santa Muerte shrine, which sits outside a modest home. On the first day of everymonth, the shrine fills with followers who come bearing statuettes of the saint. Some pilgrims make their way from the subway on their knees; many smoke weed (la mota) or cigars with their saints.Devotees of Saint Judas Thaddaeus inhale glue out of plastic bags to get high as theygather outside San Hipolito church during the annual pilgrimage honoring the saint. JudasThaddaeus is the Catholic Church's patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes, but inMexico he is also known as the saint of both cops and robbers (and prostitutes), as well asone of the biggest spiritual figures for young people in Mexico City. He has become thegeneric patron saint of disreputable activities.