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      Santa Muerte sees "explosion" of followers in the United States

      Santa Muerte File Photo

      The skeleton saint known as La Santa Muerte in recent years has found a robust and diverse following in the U.S.

      Popular in Mexico, and sometimes linked to the illicit drug trade, Saint Death is gaining devotees among immigrant small business owners, artists, gay activists and the poor.

      Many are non-Latinos and aren't involved with organized religion.

      Andrew Chesnut, author of "Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint," said the folk saint is gaining in popularity because devotees can ask her for anything, from fending off wrongdoing and carrying out vengeance.

      A follower in New Orleans has built a public shrine in her honor.

      A transgender woman in Queens, N.Y., has built an altar in her apartment and hosts an annual La Santa Muerte festival.

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