Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Strange and Tragic Story of Valentin Elizalde

The Strange and Tragic Story of Valentin Elizalde

"Now you know who you're dealing with, come and test your luck." - from "To My Enemies"

Nicknamed "The Golden Rooster," Valentin Elizalde, 27, was well known in Northern Mexico for his brass-based traditional "banda" music: polka-inspired and with gritty lyrics. Musicians like him along the Mexico-Texas frontier have long documented the trials of border life and have turned the region's drug lords into living legends.

In August 2006, on the popular video-sharing Web site, someone posted a photo slideshow depicting a succession of bullet-riddled bodies set to Elizalde's song "A Mis Enemigos" ("To My Enemies") as the soundtrack.

The gory collection had a partisan theme: it was taunting the Gulf Cartel, showing only victims aligned with it and its enforcement arm, known as Los Zetas. And just so nobody missed the point, the screen name of the person who shared the gloating documentary was "matazeta," or Zeta killer.

Volleys of foul-mouthed insults soon began to be posted to the site, resulting in a strange dialogue between self-described supporters of the Sinaloa and Gulf cartels, which are locked in a turf battle over lucrative smuggling corridors into the United States.

On the YouTube site, the rhetoric escalated in the days before Elizalde was slated to play in Reynosa a border town in the heart of Gulf Cartel territory. "Videos like this cause the death of Chapitos," warned a Gulf supporter in a posting one day before the concert, using a slang term for El Chapo's followers.

On November 25, Elizalde played his set in Reynosa, opening and closing it with "To My Enemies."

As he left the fair, two vehicles chased his Chevrolet Suburban and opened fire with automatic weapons in front of dozens of onlookers. Elizalde, his driver and manager were killed. Elizalde had been hit 28 times and died on the scene. As many as 70 cartridges were found.

A cryptic message was posted on YouTube almost immediately after the shooting. "Just because of this video, they filled the Rooster with lead, hahahaha. He cried like a bitch," another poster who sided with the Gulf Cartel wrote.

When Elizalde was gunned down, he was in the passenger seat, his limp body slumped toward the door. These details are clearly visible in another video posted on YouTube, a 50-second clip of the crime scene.

Meanwhile, the comments on the videos continued. Some comments referred to the ousting of Gregorio "El Goyo" Sauceda from the Gulf Cartel leadership after a rift with other bosses. El Goyo's fall had not been reported anywhere, but matched intelligence that U.S. authorities had gleaned from contacts in Mexico.

If there were other nuggets of truth buried among the poorly spelled curses, they are now lost. YouTube yanked the video and comments Nov. 27, citing violation of terms of service.

But other versions of the Elizalde video surfaced immediately on YouTube, one opening with machine gun fire and closing with a video clip of an execution.

In the territory disputed by the Gulf and Sinaloa cartels the names of cartel leaders are mentioned only in whispers, if at all. But under the anonymity bestowed by the Internet, whispers became pronouncements.

It wasn't the first time an assassination was foretold on the Internet. On a Weblog in August, in a similar vitriolic back-and-forth, a threat to kill Monterrey investigator Marcelo Garza y Garza became reality just weeks later.

Last Wednesday, Norteño singer Javier Morales Gomez of the group Los Implacables del Norte was gunned down in the plaza of Huetamo in Michoacan state. Three days earlier, singer Lupillo Rivera was shot at as he drove in Guadalajara.

On Sunday, a large crowd awaited the arrival of Elizalde's body at the airport in Ciudad Obregon. Two police cars then escorted Elizalde's body to his hometown of Jitonhueca, about 60 miles southeast, where a memorial service was to be held at his mother's home, the government news agency Notimex reported. Along the way, the funeral procession was greeted by the strains of norteno music. Some fans applauded from the side of the road. Others tossed flowers or laid out votive candles.


The song in question, framed as a tribute video:

It's not surprising that there's violence when you're talking about drug cartels, but besides the obvious unfortunate fate of Elizalde (who's survived by his three daughters), I thought this was notable just because of how odd this was.


  1. Pobrecito, he didn't deserve that, siempre vivira su musica y el en nuestros corazones.....Te Quiero Mucho Valentin :'(

    1. Duele mucho que mi valentin elizalde no este aqui.

  2. it sucks that he died, he had really good music.
    R.I.P valentine, adan "chalino" sanchez, sergio "el shaka" vega, chalino sanchez, serigo gomez...
    they didnt deserve to die..

  3. The horrible part about all this is that he wasn't talking about any cartel, he was talking about the many attempts on his life and those behind those attempts. Enpass descanse el Gallo de Oro.

  4. Esos pinches putos que lo mataron no sabian que el era el chingon de chingones y hay personas que ya se olvidaron de el pero yo todavia veo sus videos y valentin se te extraña

  5. i loved his music and that is just sad and i fucking hate the peeps who did that to him

  6. El Gallo de Oro, El Shaka, Que Descansen en Paz...

  7. Hi, this is a very interesting web page and I have enjoyed read­ing many of the arti­cles and posts con­tained on the web­site, keep up the good work and hope to read some more inter­est­ing con­tent in the future. Thank you so much. Como Conquistar a una Mujer

  8. It is so sad to lose valentin and i think its just sad that these singers go to mexico cuz its part of them and look at the many singers we lose there in Mexico like our dear Jenni Rivera y must the best die??

  9. l'm so sorry that we lost jenni rivera and valentin ellzalde both good singers he and her not resevered to died and miss their familia too we love you both merry christmas happy new year

  10. Marlen frenandez rest in pise valetin elizalde I know its alot of years I dont know but he s always in our hearts amen

  11. I love Valentin elizaldes music but he knew reynosa is full of zetas and he was told not to sing a mis enemigos I guess in a way that shows how much balls he had to still sing the song RIP vale...!

  12. I have loved your music and you and i always will

  13. Dicen que se metio con una vieja de un narco pero pues quien sabe la unica verdad es que el nunca va a volverr y es uma gran tristesa tan joven y talentoso lo bueno que el flaco tiene la voz muy paresida y cuando cante revive a mi vale :( mi mama por cierto atendio unos bailes de lalo en aqellos tiempos somos de navojoa

  14. Por una pinche cansion lo mataron segun tambien ya ni la chinga el no se referia a los mendigos narcos si no a sus enemigos propios esos que lo mataron un dia va llegar el momento de la venganza y va aser dios y la va aser pero bien chingona vana pagar si no a pasado ya va a pasar despues pero va apasar vana ver!!! desgraciados le qitaron la
    vida a uno que y va a llegar lejos como el dijo en esa cansion bola envidiosos jaja!

  15. I still love you Vale......

  16. I wish he was still here, he didnt deserve to die & til this day people still & always will remember him as an amazing talented singer who will always be "El Gallo de Oro" <33

  17. Siempre en mis pensanmientos vale .. Un dia nos volveremos a ver tkm .... Sac cali

  18. I love you valentin and your beautiful voice rest im paradise mi gallo!

  19. mather fu-kers don't know was coming to them they will get theres in the end basters

  20. The Gulf Cartel is DEAD, and they exist no longer.. especially when it comes to power and control. The Sinaloa Cartel is the richest of all and generates more money than imaginable..


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