CULIACAN, Mexico – A member of a band specializing in songs about the exploits and travails of drug kingpins was gunned down Friday in the western Mexican state of Sinaloa, authorities said.
Rodolfo Gomez Valenzuela was fatally wounded in the wee hours of Friday, when armed men burst into a home where the Cartel de Sinaloa group was rehearsing and opened fire, a police officer told the media.
The victim’s brother, drummer Roberto Clemente Gomez Valenzuela, was also hit and remains hospitalized in Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa.
Taking its name from Mexico’s most powerful drug cartel, the band plays what are known as “narcocorridos.”
The ballads about drug lords feature traditional folk melodies and rhythm and constitute a thriving category of Mexican popular music, yet singing about the underworld can be risky.
Another member of Cartel de Sinaloa, Jose Antonio Sanchez Velazquez, was slain in 2009, one of seven singers and musicians in the narcocorrido genre murdered over the past six years.
Observers suggest violence against narcocorrido artists is the work of kingpins angry about songs glorifying their rivals.
Sinaloa is the birthplace of the first generation of high-profile Mexican drug traffickers, including Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the fugitive boss of the Sinaloa cartel and – according to Forbes magazine – one of the world’s richest people.
In May 2011, Sinaloa Gov. Mario Lopez Valdez issued a decree barring narcocorridos in bars, nightclubs and banquet halls. EFE