Santa Cabeza (literally translating as "Saint Head") was a South American town referred to in the first Dead Rising game. This small community was described and implied to be a very fertile and lively place, with beautiful natural scenery and landscape. Its isolated and smaller population apparently made it a peaceful, harmonious place to live.
Due to its agricultural fertility, a significant portion of Santa Cabeza's land was suitable and abundant with livestock. Unknown to the local populace, its environmental properties and isolation made it a desired site for the U.S. government's classified purposes.
At an unspecified time-frame before 2006, a covert research facility manned by a specialized U.S. government funded scientist team was established in Santa Cabeza. This team was led by Dr. Russell Barnaby. The group was tasked to discover a way to double the livestock of local cattle. The expensive project's purpose was simple; if successful in reproducing cattle at an accelerated rate, the government could feed more Americans, whose rapid consumption of meat was becoming too expeditious for distributors to cater for.
The research team did their job, but their progress advanced when they discovered a mysterious and previously undiscovered insect species in the local region beside the Pachacamac River. The species was subsequently given the scientific name; Ampulex Compressa Giganteus.
The Ampulex Compressa Giganteus resembled wasps or bees, and had their own counterparts of queens. The species was casually referred to as such between the research staff. They were also larger and more aggressive compared to their related species. Dr. Barnaby and his research team were going to harness the species and use its abnormal but potential properties to accelerate the production of meat.
The team began experimenting on rats and cattle to see what this new species would do to its host. They instead discovered that the queens of the species killed whatever host they latched onto, but then reanimated the corpses, becoming what is more non-scientifically referred to as zombies.
This was witnessed first hand when one of the wasp queens accidently escaped the facility, and traveled into the once peaceful town of Santa Cabeza, beginning the process of infecting every resident. As neither the world nor the local population had any previous knowledge of the Ampulex Compressa Giganteus, they were ultimately unprepared for what would be the first in a series of deadly zombie outbreaks.
When news of the outbreak reached the U.S. government, they ordered their military to contain it, forsaking all living survivors still trapped inside. A Special Forces unit lead by Brock Mason was dispatched to completely wipe out the Santa Cabeza and its residents to cover up the ensuing epidemic. Dr. Barnaby and his research team were trapped right in the middle. Only after a brutal genocide of both the undead and living was Dr. Barnaby extracted from the compromised town. After being debriefed, to cover his actions in future questioning, Barnaby claimed that Santa Cabeza was used by terrorists to disperse a "zombie drug".