Police in Honduras were investigating local gangs suspected of kidnapping children and then sacrificing them in satanic rites, an official said Tuesday.
"We suspect that these groups are not only sacrificing cats and hens but that they are also using children in their rites," said Police Inspector Florencio Oseguera.
Oseguera, who heads the gang crime division in Tegucigalpa, said that in late June police found the decapitated body of a two-year-old boy reported missing by his mother.
"The boy, as well as being without a head and bloodied, had symbols and markings on his body, in women's eyeliner, just like the cats and hens that were found in areas where the gangs are known to have performed satanic rites," Oseguera said.
Last week, five more boys were reported missing in various towns, he said.
The police are tracing one band known as "Los Rockeros", the Rockers, which are affiliated with gangs in the capital as well as in other cities in Honduras.
Police estimate the gangs have as many as 32,000 mostly young members nationwide involved in crimes including assault and murder.
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