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A headless goat and several chickens, possibly sacrificed in a Santeria ritual, were discovered floating in Biscayne Bay behind a South Beach luxury condo over the weekend.
"I was looking in the water, and I see this blue bag and it looked like a leg of a goat coming out and some feathers," Floridian condo security guard Karim Mora, who made the grisly discovery, told NBC6. “So right there, I knew what it was."
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The Miami Beach Police department declined to investigate because the apparent sacrifice didn't appear to target an individual, spokesman Bobby Hernandez told the Miami Herald.
"Unfortunately, this kind of thing does happen around here with all of the different cultures," he said.
CBS Miami reports that after examining the carcasses, animal abuse activist Richard Couto of the Animal Recovery Mission suggested the animals may have been been killed in a rite for Santeria or Palo Mayombe, an even more obscure religion with Cuban origins. Police officer Nelson Reyes, who teaches a law enforcement course in Afro-Caribbean religious practices, suggested it might have been related to Haitian Voodoo.
Animal sacrifice for religious ceremony is legal, though those who killed the goat and chickens appear not to have followed proper disposal guidelines. Couto said many animals used in religious sacrifices are abused.
“These animals face not only torturous deaths, but from being purchased at the illegal farms where they are to the ceremony. We’re talking about these animals are deprived of food, water. They’re hog-tied, they're placed in bags, they're transported inhumanely,” he said.
Santeria, which blends Roman Catholicism with a West African religion, occasionally features in Miami's most bizarre happenings. Last January, authorities found human fetuses in a jar in the luggage of two women flying back to Miami from Havana; they told investigators a Santeria priest had asked them to transport the jar without telling them what was inside.
In 2011, two North Miami Police Department employees were fired for plotting to put a curse on the city manager by sprinkling birdseed in his office. And grave disturbances at local cemeteries -- including the theft of infant skulls -- is regularly blamed on the religion.