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Las Poquianchis: The Dark Tale of the González Valenzuela Sisters

Few stories are as chilling and macabre as that of the González Valenzuela sisters, known infamously as Las Poquianchis. These four sisters, María Delfina González Valenzuela, María del Carmen González Valenzuela, María Luisa González Valenzuela and María de Jesús González Valenzuela, orchestrated one of the most gruesome murder sprees in Mexican history.

Early Life and Family Background

The González Valenzuela sisters were born in the north-central Mexican state of Jalisco, in the town of El Salto de Juanacatlán. Their father, Isidro Torres, was a local policeman known for his strict and authoritarian nature. He imposed severe restrictions on his daughters, forbidding them from wearing makeup or socialising with boys. Violations of these rules were met with harsh punishment, including being locked up in a cell at the police station.

Maria de Jesus and Delfina Gonzalez Valenzuela.

The family's life took a dramatic turn when Isidro Torres shot and killed a man during an argument. This incident forced the family to relocate to the village of San Francisco del Rincón in the state of Guanajuato, seeking refuge from the ensuing turmoil.

Descent into Crime

In an attempt to escape poverty and their father's oppressive control, the sisters opened a bar. However, the venture failed to generate the desired income, leading them to turn to prostitution. This illicit activity proved lucrative, allowing them to expand their operations throughout Jalisco, Guanajuato, and Querétaro.

A mob awaits eagerly to lynch Las Poquianchis (foreground, in black) as they are escorted by police.

Their criminal empire took a dark and sinister turn when the sisters began recruiting young women through deceptive advertisements for housemaids. To have enough girls for the brothels, they kidnapped or tricked girls from all over Jalisco, Guanajuato, even other states like Michoacán & Zacatecas. Aside from just taking them off the streets, they told girls they would be working as maids, even had the consent from parents. Once the kidnapped girls arrived at the brothels, they were raped, showered in freezing water, drugged and then put to work that same night. The sisters' cruelty knew no bounds; once girls reached the age 25, they were considered too old and were sent to a Verdugo (a man that tortured), who beat them and then starved them to death Additionally, they murdered wealthy clients who arrived with large sums of money. Many of her customers were police officers, military officers, soldiers and politicians. In 1948, due to stricter laws, they were forced to close her brothel and move it to San Juan de los Lagos, Jalisco and named it, El Guadalajara de La Noche. 

The Horrifying Discovery

The sisters imposed numerous strict rules: no kissing, no sexual acts between the girls, and no anal sex. Clients who requested any of these were banned from the brothel, and some sources claim they were even killed. To enforce these rules, the sisters kept the girls under constant surveillance. If any infractions occurred, the girls faced severe punishment, including being forced to kneel while holding bricks, being beaten with a nail-studded bat, and being starved.

Delfina's son, El Tepocate, who assisted in torturing and controlling the girls, was killed in a bar fight. When Delfina attempted to shoot her son's murderer but missed, it provoked the local officials, who sought to arrest her. Delfina fled to Guadalajara, and in her absence, police raided Maria de Jesus' brothel. The girls and Maria were detained for a day but managed to escape at night, taking refuge in a house they owned in San Francisco del Rincón. The girls were forced to stay there for eight months under harsh conditions, leading to many deaths from starvation and sickness.

By January 6, 1964, feeling the pressure from the police, the sisters moved the girls to Rancho San Ángel, a site previously used for torture and burying bodies. Twelve days later, Catalina Ortega, one of the girls, escaped and reported to the police. Although the officer who took the report was a client of the brothel, he took her seriously. The sisters denied all allegations, but an inspection revealed 90 bodies. Subsequently, they were arrested and transferred to a prison in Guanajuato to avoid the threat of lynching.The González Valenzuela sisters' reign of terror lasted from 1950 until 1964. Their downfall was compounded when police arrested Josefina Gutiérrez, a procuress suspected of kidnapping young girls in the Guanajuato area. Under interrogation, Gutiérrez implicated the González sisters, leading authorities to search their property near San Francisco del Rincón.

Las Poquianchis being taken to their sinister ranch, Loma del Angel, on January 14, 1964.

The discovery was beyond horrifying: police unearthed the bodies of eighty women, eleven men, and several foetuses. The extent of their crimes shocked the nation and earned them the dubious distinction of the "most prolific murder partnership" by Guinness World Records. Estimates suggest that the sisters may have killed over 150, and possibly even more than 200, individuals.

Trial and Aftermath

In 1964, the González Valenzuela sisters were tried and each sentenced to forty years in prison. Their lives in prison were marked by tragic and bizarre events. Delfina died in a freak accident when a construction worker accidentally dumped cement on her head while trying to catch a glimpse of the notorious killer. María served her sentence and subsequently disappeared from public view upon her release. Carmen succumbed to cancer while still incarcerated, and María Luisa was driven to madness by the fear of retribution from angry protesters.

A Police Officer readies an unhappy Maria de Jesus Gonzalez for her mugshot in San Francisco del Rincon, Guanajuato.

The tale of Las Poquianchis remains a grim chapter in the history of crime, a stark reminder of the depths of human depravity. Their story continues to fascinate and horrify, a dark legacy of murder and exploitation in the heart of Mexico.



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