Chandler police are investigating the possibility that the stabbing death and decapitation of a 38-year-old Phoenix resident believed to be an illegal immigrant from Mexico earlier this month was a “hit” by a Mexican drug cartel against a member who betrayed them.

Alejandro Cota-Monroy, whose decapitated body was found inside an apartment at 300 West Fairview St. the morning of Oct. 10 amid a bloody and gruesome scene, may have ripped off a Mexican cartel of illegal drugs, according to Chandler police Detective Dave Ramer.

Police responded to a report of a man down about 5:30 a.m. at the residence where police said at least four men had been drinking heavily and discovered Cota-Monroy’s body stabbed multiple times and his head lying near his body.

U.S. Marshal David Gonzales and retired DEA agent Phil Jordan both told the Tribune they believe it could be the first beheading connected to a Mexican drug cartel crossing into the United States.

Initial media reports indicated that the man’s death could be connected to a Mexican religious ritual, the Saint of Death, because candles and a Ouija border were reportedly found at the scene. But Ramer said the slaying had “nothing to do” with the religion, although drug dealers and drug cartel members are known to participate in it because they believe if they do, it will protect them from law enforcement.

Of the four men, one was arrested and the other three are in Mexico, according to Ramer.

Crisantos Moroyoqui, 36, was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder and hindering prosecution.

Moroyoqui, who is being held in a Maricopa County jail, is not cooperating with investigators. The other three suspects, Juan Campos Morales Aguilar, Jose David Castro Reyes and a man only currently known as “El Joto,” remain on the loose.

At some point during the evening and early morning at the residence, some of the men left and then returned and killed Cota-Monroy, police said.

It was not immediately known what kind of drugs Cota-Monroy allegedly was stealing.

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