Mexico: Folk musician murdered


26 February 2008

Folk musician murdered
The Mexican folk musician Jesús Rey David Alfaro Pulido and his manager and assistant have been brutally murdered in Tijuana, close to the US border. They now add to the mounting list of murdered musicians and producers who have sung the controversial ‘narco-corridos’.

By Martin Buch Larsen, Freemuse

The body of Jesús Rey David Alfaro Pulido, known as ‘El Gallito’ (The Little Rooster) is only one of six cadavers that were discovered last week in the Mexican border town of Tijuana. The murders of Pulido and his friends are believed to be linked to the murders of two municipal police officers which took place in the same week, informs the Attorney General’s Office of Baja California. Rivalry between powerful drug cartels seems to be the reason behind the killings.

“We believe he had links with the Arellano Felix cartel”, said an official of the Prosecutor’s Office of Baja California. The Arellano Felix cartel is the leading drug cartel in Tijuana and it is currently waging a brutal war with rivaling drug cartels to gain control of territory with key smuggling points across the US-Mexico border, reports CNN Expansion.

According to online media – – the brother of David Pulido has subsequently tried to clear the name of his deceased brother. He insists that the murder is not linked to the illegal drug trade and refuses that his brother ever sang ‘narco-corridos’ for the Arellano Felix cartel. However, he added that it has no interest to know who killed him and prefers to “leave things as they are.”

Associated Press reports that all cadavers bore signs of torture and had been marked with aggressive messages from the killers such as “you are next” – presumably directed at the Mexican police forces which seeks to undermine the encompassing drug trade in the area.

Alarming number of musicians killed
In December 2007, over the course of only one week, three musicians were slain in different parts of Mexico. They counted trumpeter Jose Luis Aquino, Sergio Gomez from the top-selling group K-Paz de la Sierra and the female singer Zyda Pena.

The slaying of the local musician Jorge Antonio Sepulveda in January 2008 and now Jesus Rey David Alfaro Pulido puts the list of murdered musicians in Mexico close to 20 people since the middle of 2006

Narco-corridos and the drug cartels
There are numerous contradicting explanations and opinions on the increased murders of musicians in Mexico, each with their own legitimate standpoint. There is however still no consensus on the complex matter. 

One of the explanations is that the murders should be seen in the  scope of the popular ‘narco-corrido’ music. This northern Mexican music style has evolved out of the Norteño folk corrido tradition, using a danceable, accordion-based polka as the rhythmic base. The ‘narco-corrido’ lyrics tend to speak approvingly of the criminal activities – in this case often praising the drug-trade, and most importantly praising specific popular figures behind it.

CBC News reports that the Mexican authorities believe that various powerful drug cartels operating in northern Mexico are deliberately targeting singers (and messengers) associated with rivaling drug cartels, and that the continuous killings seem to reflect a mutual practice of ‘killing the messenger’..

Prasing anthem for drug cartel
One of the more known cases is that of ‘The Golden Rooster’, the source of inspiration (both musically and name-wise) for the recently murdered David Pulido, hence his name ‘The little Rooster’.

‘The Golden Rooster’ was murdered in November 2006, after one of his songs titled ‘To My Enemies’ had became a sort of praising ‘anthem’ for the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel led by Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman. The competing Gulf Cartel (which he was ‘molesting’ in the song) eventually had its ‘mercenary arm’ Los Zetas deal with him – and silence him forever.

While the murders of 20 musicians may sound alarming, it is however important to take into consideration that in 2007 alone, a total of more than 2,500 persons are believed to have been killed in connections with the drug trade in the country.

The ‘Golden Rooster’ legacy
Jesús Rey David Alfaro Pulido, 26, also known as ‘El Gallito’ (The Little Rooster) was famed for his accordion-based music associated with northern Mexico music genres known as ‘banda’ or ‘grupero’. David Pulido allegedly never made a proper studio recording, but gained his fame locally when he started to recount some of deceased Mexican musician Valentin Elizalde’s (The Golden Rooster) most famous songs.

Jesûs Rey Pulido


Associated Press – 20 February 2008:

‘Mexican singer found tortured, shot’

CBC News – 21 February 2008:

‘Popular Tijuana singer found tortured, slain’

CNN Expansion – 20 February 2008

‘Narco asesina a cantante en Tijuana’

La Oreja:

‘Ejecutan a un grupero más’

Masnoticias, La Red del Norte – 18 February 2008:

‘Asesinan a otro cantante grupero “El Gallito de Tijuana” ‘


The Telegraph – 1 June 2008:

‘Mexico: the danger of ‘drug ballads’ ‘

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