Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Analysis: Chuy Quintanilla, US first Narco-Singer Murder

Sunday, May 19, 2013 |

Borderland Beat


John Sullivan and Dr. Robert Bunker Small Wars Journal

Jesus “Chuy” Quintanilla was discovered dead in Mission, Texas, across the border from Reynosa, Tamaulipas.  He was a noted singer of narcocorridos.[1]  Narcomusica (narco-music) plays a key role in shaping the social space of Mexico’s drug war. Narcocorridos are epic folk ballads that extol the merits of the narcos: capos and sicarios alike. Chuy Quintanilla was best known for his narcocorridos
…depicting the infamous characters and clashes of Mexico’s drug war, and with lyrics that could drop listeners into the thick of a gunbattle, it’d be easy to mistake the singer for a combatant himself.  (The Monitor, 28 April 2013)
Situation

Norteño singer Jesus “Chuy” Quintanilla was discovered dead in a pool of his own blood on Thursday, 25 April 2013.  Hidalgo County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene.  According to Sheriff Lupe Treviño, Quintanilla had been shot at least twice in the head— the preliminary autopsy report released later stated one shot to the head and one to the neck.
 
While it is too early to determine the motive for the slaying, Quintanilla’s prominent role in narcomúsica and long history of singing narcocorridos make him a prominent figure in Mexico’s narcocultura that shapes the social contours of the drug war.
Jesus “Chuy” Quintanilla appeared to have been shot at least twice in the head and was found near his vehicle, Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino said. Irrigation workers found his body on a roadway north of Mission in an isolated area surrounded by citrus groves, Trevino said. (El Paso Times, 26 April 2013)

Quintanilla who recorded over 40 albums of corridos was known as La Mera Ley del Corrido — The True Law of the Corrido. His nickname is derived from his serving as a Mexican judicial police officer for 20 years prior to his music career.
Quintanilla’s songs covered topics ranging from horse races to cockfights, but the drug war was prominent on his play list. Further, the dress of this individual and his propensity to be posed in his album covers with assault weapons, expensive cars, and beautiful women added to his mystique as a narcocantante.

His repertoire included several songs about drug traffickers on the U.S. side of the border.  These include corridos entitled “Tomy Gonzalez,” “El Chusquis” and “El Corrido de Marco,” that commented on alleged drugs dealers in Weslaco and Rio Grande City who coordinated drug trafficking organizations in Texas and the U.S.:

One of Chuy Quintanilla’s most famous songs involves the fierce battle through the streets of Reynosa as Mexican authorities hunted down the Gulf Cartel leader known as Jaime “El Hummer” Gonzalez Duran.
Another top hit, called “Estamos en Guerra,” talks about how the Zetas turned on the Gulf Cartel, which in turn would move to eradicate its former enforcers. (The Monitor, 28 April 2013)
Chuy Quintanilla Album Cover
Narcocorridos

As Sullivan noted in his SWJ–El Centro paper “Criminal Insurgency: Narcocultura, Social Banditry, and Information Operations,”
Music is a key element of transmitting alternative cultural values in the ‘narcoscape.’  Narcomúsica (narco-music) is an integral component of cartel influence operations (information operations) and is instrumental is defining (redefining) the persona of the outlaw.  The tradition of narcocorridos builds from the ranchera tradition of folk ballads (corridos) that extol heroic deeds.

The narcocorrido variant of traditional corridos has extended its reach from the narco subculture to mainstream audiences throughout Mexico and the United States. Narcocorridos extol the virtues of the drug lord and describe, apotheosize, comment upon and lament the deeds of the narcos, projecting the image of ‘folk hero.’
According to University of Texas, Brownsville Professor Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, narcocantantes are influential in transmitting narcocultura:

People who sing about these people, drug traffickers are making money from that because there is a captive market and the drug traffickers are going to promote this music,” Correa-Cabrera said. “It promotes, recruits young people presents a life that everyone would like to have and it really serves the purpose of drug trafficking organizations. (Source: Action 4 News, 25 April 2013)
While narcocorridos are popular and bring musical success, they can also bring violent reprisal when the lyrics cross certain gangsters. When the gangsters take exception to the story line, the singers can become targets. 

For example, in January 2013, members of the band Kombo Kolombia were found in a mass grave  (narcofosa) in Monterrey.  Other narcocantantes killed in cartel-related violence include: Julio Cesar Leyva Beltran of Los Ciclones del Arroyo in Sinaloa (read more next page)

(April 2012); Sergio Vega (aka “El Shaka”) in Sinaloa (June 2010); and Valentin Elizalde in Reynosa (November 2006). The difference here is that Quintanilla was killed on the U.S. side of the border.
Analysis
If the investigation determines that Quintanilla was killed because of his narcocorridos it would be the first known assassination of a narcocantante (narco-singer) in the United States.  This would be a significant shift in targeting and the U.S. would be firmly in the operational zone of targeted killings to shape the ‘narcosphere’ or ‘drug war zone.’ 

Quintanilla was identified with the CDG: Cartel del Golfo (Gulf Cartel) and had dedicated songs to Tony Tormenta (Antonio Ezequiel Cárdenas Guillén)[6] the CDG capo who died in a battle with Mexican marines in November 2010 which resulted in a turf battle with Los Zetas in the city of Mier.[7]  One of his songs, “Estamos En Guerra (Los Zetas Vs. CDG),”chronicled the battles following the Gulf-Zeta split.[8],[9]

Quintanilla was identified with the CDG: Cartel del Golfo (Gulf Cartel) and had dedicated songs to Tony Tormenta (Antonio Ezequiel Cárdenas Guillén)[6] the CDG capo who died in a battle with Mexican marines in November 2010 which resulted in a turf battle with Los Zetas in the city of Mier.[7]  One of his songs, “Estamos En Guerra (Los Zetas Vs. CDG),”chronicled the battles following the Gulf-Zeta split.[8],[9]

It is possible that Quintanilla became a target of one or both of those cartels as a result of his characterization of their activities in the current conflict in Tamaulipas.  Certainly both cartels have a presence in Texas and could operate there as seen in recent reports of Blockades

It is also possible that he crossed other criminal enterprises (such as U.S. gangs) or was targeted for more mundane criminal reasons.  Nevertheless, the modus operandi or tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) involved in his death are consistent with those of narco-assassinations.

Normally, a single murder (narco or otherwise) would possibly at best warrant a tactical note.  This killing, due to the prominence of the victim, his history of singing narcocorridos, and his alleged links with both the CDG and Los Zetas cartels make this an act of strategic significance.  Even if the death is not a cartel-related hit, the information operations dynamics of his murder exude images of narcocultura.

Notes

1. "Asesinan en Texas  al cantante de narcocorridos Chuy Quintanilla,” Emeequis, 25 April 2013.

2. Ildefonso Ortiz, “Slain singer  Chuy Quintanilla gained fame for drug war ballads,” The Monitor, 26 April 2013

3. Christopher Sherman, “Singer found dead along road in rural South Texas,” El Paso Times, 26 April 2013

4. John P. Sullivan, “Criminal Insurgency: Narcocultura Social Banditry, and Information Operations,” Small Wars Journal, 3 December 2012 at

5.“Narco Corridos: The dark side  of the Mexican music world,” Action 4 News, Harlington, TX, 25 April 2013

6. Chuy Quintanilla songs about  Cárdenas Guillén include “El Corrido De Tony Tormenta,” see

7."Asesinan a Chuy Quintanilla “Asesinan a Chuy Quintanilla, cantante de narcocorridos,” Terra, 27 Apil 2013

8. For an analysis of the fissure between the CDG and Los Zetas see Samuel Logan and John P. Sullivan, “The Gulf-Zeta Split and the Praetorian Revolt,” ISN Security Watch, ETH Zurich, 7 April 2010 at.

9.   To hear to hear Chuy Quintanilla, “Estamos En Guerra (Los Zetas Vs. Cartel Del Golfo).”

10. John P. Sullivan, “Spillover/Narcobloqueos in Texas,” Small Wars Journal SWJ Blog, 1 April 2013 at   See also Texas Public Safety Threat Overview 2013, Austin: Texas Department of Public Safety, February 2013  p. 18

Additional Resources:

a. Video: “Narco singer ‘Chuy’ Quintanilla found shot dead in South Texas.” NewsFix, 26 April 2013

b. Video: Nadia Galindo, “Preliminary autopsy results released for slain singer Chuy Quintanilla.” Valley Central, 26 April 2013

c. FACEBOOK:Chuy Quintanilla (La Mera Ley Del Corrido)

d. “Narco Singer Chuy Quintanilla Found Slain North of Mission Texas.” Borderland Beat Thursday 25 April 2013

 


 
 

Share it:

71 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

I like the rhythm of his and Beto's, different from the west of Mexico.

Anonymous said...

RIP chuy siempre te recordaremos como a tu hermano beto

Anonymous said...

Saul viera 'el gavilancillo' was killed near los angeles in the 90's,he was the first narco singer killed in the us...

Siskiyou_Kid said...

Komba Kolombia weren't killed for singing narcocorridos, they were killed because of WHO they played for.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to disagree with you.

I believe Saul Viera "El Gavilancillo" was the first narco-singer murdered in the US

Anonymous said...

if you sing about sensitive isecure people, you definitely do become the focus of their paranoia, coupled with the mexican version of the hyper macho world of spicy latin narcocultura. this shouldnt be suprising...Eazy=E rapped about slapping his bitches and stuffing them with 9 inches of pimp dick, he in turn died of "pneumonia"

Anonymous said...

Good news on a Sunday morning!!!

Anonymous said...

All of this narcocorrido singer are sponsor by the cartels. They're too use to move drugs, guns, and papel. They buy them a bus promote them from coast to coast and they start moving their shit. And people don't even notice. Too bad this fucken corridos can't be outlawed in the states do to our freedom of speech.

Anonymous said...

Nomames ese vato vivia por mi barrio era Buena jente al Chile Q.E.P.D chuy en donde kiera k te encuentres

Anonymous said...

Tony tormenta...was killed by marinos not zetas

Anonymous said...

Chuy who???

Anonymous said...

Tony Tormenta was killed by Mexican Naval infantry(SeMar) forces.

Anonymous said...

There is very little difference between deep south Texas and Mexico. Corrupt mexican politicians such as Sherrif lupe Trevino. 90% Mexican population. If you are white and not raised in this area, you have little chance of success. If you are white, born here and can navigate the system, you may be OK. The rio grande valley is the most corrupt area of the united states. Give it back to mexico and move the border wall closer to Corpus Christi where the U S really Begains.

Anonymous said...

Another Borderland Beat article thats good for the most part...then gives incorrect info and credits crackhead zetas with something they didnt do lol.

Anonymous said...

Tony Tormented in Hell

Anonymous said...

The first poster talking about el gavilancillo is perhaps correct.

I was told by a direct source that back in the very late 90's or '00 a narco singer known as "chuy" was kidnapped in Los Angeles County and he gave up some money and cocaine in order to be freed. Having read this article I thought he was the same person but the other "chuy" has a diffetent surname.

Anonymous said...

Too bad Michael Jackson music can not be outlawed due to our freedom of speech, looks like you like a child molester's music more than mexican-american folk music.

Anonymous said...

I agree..... Chalino was close to getting too in cochella.

Anonymous said...

May 19, 2013 at 12:20 PM
Por ahi anda su espiritu y te va a jalar las patas por la noche

Anonymous said...

poor little chuy. Who will sing us a narcocorrido now?

Anonymous said...

Alot of narco singers get robbed ,attacked in US
La Mafia singer was attacked in houston last week

Anonymous said...

It was saul viera el gavilancillo first narco singer killed on the u.s side

Anonymous said...

Tormenta was killed by Coss people supporting the Marines in the gun battle. If ya find the rawer video ya can see the trucks leaving after fighting. N the marines stay back. According to accounts torments was a bad boy n he wasn't easy so help was needed. To the point mass grenades had to be used. If ya see the pictures a big gap in the wall is opened n also there are rings scorpio rings with diamonds stolen by Coss man

Anonymous said...

The guy looked like a target or a bad guy. Either way, dress like an idiot with the gay mustache and fancy homo cowboy outfit and you will end up shot.

Anonymous said...

Saul viera was killed for the same reason el shaka and valentine were killed and it has nothing to do with narcotraffico

Anonymous said...

Learn how to read with understanding. .. that's what it said

Anonymous said...

Funny how an old man has to stand next to a Cadillac in his album cover. Its a vehicle it doesn't make you cool or a better singer. Not to mention its a Cadillac big deal

Anonymous said...

Tommy Gonzalez alias El Gallo de Weslaco Texas,,, Chuy siempre andava en esta cuadra cantando,, aribba la milla 9

Anonymous said...

Off topic, Armando Villalobos, former district attorney for Cameron County, Texas, is on trial for drug related corruption.

Anonymous said...

Saul viera was murdered over a female

Anonymous said...

The real crime is that wardrobe hahaha isn't he kind of old for mexican gangsta rap. I would hire a hitman to silence his dumbass too

Anonymous said...

u piece if shit!

Anonymous said...

El Hummer conspired the slaying of Elizalde, let him rot and face judgement.

Anonymous said...

Y ARRIBA EL GOLFO!!

Anonymous said...

nacro ballads could use some guitar and piano for a change

Anonymous said...

Viera aka Gavilancio may have been killed over a female but he was still somewhat of a narco singer thus making him the first ever killed in the U.S.. However, there may have been others before him killed on U.S. Soil.

Anonymous said...

And remember that somebody try to kill joan sebastian and his son in texas

Anonymous said...

i like the map of mexican cartels from Borderlandbeat
but what about the map of american gangs?

Anonymous said...

to the people that talk bad about mexican culture and its music if ya dont like the way we dress or wat music we lisen 2 go and buy yas self a good outfit and a justin biber cd then buy sum beers and go drinkn with yas homies....

Anonymous said...

What reason is that?

Anonymous said...

was that chuntaro named hummer because he drove a hummer??

Anonymous said...

may19,2013 @1:11pm the rio grande valley isnt any more corrupt than any other area, the only diff is that more opportunity exists to get in on the act for ppl who arent connected. ever live in a big city? only the ppl at the top have access to big time corruption. its the wild west down here...always has been. now we have a convenient label "spillover violence" gringos arent allowed in the game cuz they cant be trusted...but it has nothing to do with race.mexicanos that didnt grow up here arent trusted either. the nonsense about gringos not being successful down here is ridiculous. corporate always puts a gringo in charge...fastfood, retail, hotels...all have gringo mgrs and gen mgrs. yet they still find a way to fuck up and they eventually put a mexicano in place and pay him less,pendejo!

El Elefante Del Valle said...

Let's see how big Lupe Trevino's balls are now. If he really wanted to investigate cartel activity in the RGV, all he would have to do is ask his son.

Sic'em Lupe! Let's see you clean up Hidalgo County!

Anonymous said...

i found this statement and had to share it. "You can drink alcohol often and not become addicted to it. Nicotine is addictive and has been practically vilified for it. I do not know any casual crack or heroin users - users become addicts. Government then not only legalizes substances that cause immediate addiction and the commensurate health, social, and financial devastation that result, but government then makes a profit on that addiction and devastation."

Anonymous said...

El humer le jalaba la perga a beto

Anonymous said...

Simon

Anonymous said...

Ese vato era un zeta

Anonymous said...

The fourth branch of the government is responsible. they know how to control or shape the masses of the people trew what they see and hear. so for example the narcocorridos glorify that life at times
or just share what happend that day in the shootout. but now have you noticed that most of all mexican tv shows novelas all have sum type of organize crime element. thats to get the people to feel that thats a normal way to live and not try an change it somehow, it turns girls to gold diggers. and lastly another example the late 80s and 90s that music was just gangster rap saying go out and kill your enemy bullcrap like that you know. but you see thats what them Aryan white people want. for mexicans and blacks can be in the prison system wich is basically a prison camp because thats wut they do work for penny and ramen noodles. our government borrowed tactics of the Nazis the tactic of social control trew psychology. us here killing each other while their pockets get full of that fake green paper poison. that shows you the true colors of both of our governments. they are just businessmem so they handle the company (country) like a buissnes were all they care for is money and we are their cattle and mule ke nos andamos chingando

Anonymous said...

Valentin elizalde ran with sinaloa cartel .. he went to zeta territory and he sang a song that they told him over and over not to sing.. well he thought he had big balls and he got smashed...

Anonymous said...

Does Bobby Fuller, of the Bobby Fuller Four, count? He wrote and sang the rock & roll classic "I Fought the Law" (and the law won)- most likely the greatest crime song of all time. Months after I Fought the Laws release, he was found dead, under suspicious circumstances, in his car and in front of his LA apartment. His death was ruled neither suicide nor accident, but many close to him believe it was a hit. A Texan, born in Baytown and lived in El Paso, and some say, mixed up in the underworld along the way to LA. I'm sure even Chuy had covered "I Faught the Law".

Anonymous said...

May 19, 2013 at 2:04 PM
"If you are white and not raised in this area, you have little chance of success"
Dude,does that mean if we white we can whine about racism like everyone else does?

Anonymous said...

All I know is corridos are the shit, people. I'm not talking about faggoty mainstream bullshit on the radio; I'm talking about true badass motherfuckers who can jam on a bajo sexto, accordeon, tuba, requinto, whatever... the legit shit that tells a story without dicksucking. Corridos are badass.

Anonymous said...

Man. Relax. I live in the great RGV. Yes there is corruption here as well as in any other city un America. New York, Boston and L.A. Have had there share, but to put down the Rio Grande valley shows your character. We are Americans. And we are proud!!!

Anonymous said...

Your a freaking moron not all the valley is corrupt. Corpus is just as bad might as well move your border fence all the way up to dallas if u wanna do that

Anonymous said...

If u only new the truth

Anonymous said...

Hes a piece of shit he is guilty hes on trial for multiple corruption charges. He says he innocent, if he walks the valley truly corrupt

Anonymous said...

Gavilancillo was the first us citizen/narco singer killed in us. Not this bloated fuck nut.

Anonymous said...

Saul was fucking a sinaloa narco's girlfriend..and got smoked for it.. in paramount ca. Afuerita del Denny's

Anonymous said...

All these singers sucked narcs they all died of what they sang karma valemtin was a pussy trying to act hard this aint sinaloa here they shoot then ask questions. Chuy for being a lacra if u had money he was on your balls. Gavillan who gives a fuck 90s jajaja

Anonymous said...

"yet they still find a way to fuck up and they eventually put a mexicano in place and pay him less,pendejo!"
Yeah right,there is no bullshit towards"gringos"is there?Blow it out your ass you liar,you more fuckin racist than any white!

Anonymous said...

May 20, 2013 at 1:18 AM
"to the people that talk bad about mexican culture and its music if ya dont like the way we dress or wat music we lisen 2"
Oh shut up you tit head.You know the way you dont like rap and Michael Jackson,thats ok,everybody got an opinion and its ok.Its bitches like you pretending to be all upset about culture an all that shite,its not about culture its about shit music,some like it some dont,grow up and stop bullshitting everyone with your phony shit.Culture?Fuck are you going on about?Ye,Justin Beiber shit as well,im not getting all upset about"my culture"fuck off anyway,quiero que me hagas un mamada,ok guey?

Anonymous said...

You are right. The valley is mexico. Brownsville is the good part of matamoros. Just as corrupt but a little safer.

Anonymous said...

No, Bobby Fuller does not count since he was not a narco singer.

Anonymous said...

Joan Sebastian he likes to sing on a Horse he was attacked on houston with his son. but he is alive

Anonymous said...

@5:43pm

NOBODY said Saul Viera was killed because narcotrafficking but only that he was the first narco singer killed in the U.S. geeze f#*% damn it ...

Anonymous said...

He wasn't killed because of what he sang though

Anonymous said...

May 21 10:55

Again, NOBODY is claiming he, Saul Viera, was killed because of what he sang but ONLY that he was the first narco singer killed in the U.S..

Please read carefully!

Chivis said...

Saul Viera was a man killed for a personal vendetta that happened to be a corrido singer. Chuy was killed for being a corrido singer. A distinct difference that most people get.

John Sullivan a co-author is well aware of the Vierra murder perhaps his background should be noted:

John P. Sullivan is a career police officer. He currently serves as a lieutenant with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. He is also an Adjunct Researcher at the Vortex Foundation; Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies on Terrorism (CAST); and Senior Fellow at Small Wars Journal-El Centro. He is co-editor of Countering Terrorism and WMD: Creating a Global Counter- Terrorism Network (Routledge, 2006) and Global Biosecurity: Threats and Responses (Routledge, 2010). He is co- author of Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency: A Small Wars Journal-El Centro Anthology (iUniverse, 2011). His current research focus is the impact of transnational organized crime on sovereignty in Mexico and other countries

Anonymous said...

No, Bobby Fuller does not count since he was not a narco singer.
May 21, 2013 at 5:19 PM

Still, I bet Chuy crossed-over to rock & roll at some narco-patrons daughters quinceanera and covered "I Fault the Law" ... and probably "Louie Louie" too.

Anonymous said...

May 22, 2013 at 9:39 AM
And he(JS)is my husband who believes in me,my life partner.Anon.We were married in San Fran amongst many male friends and well wishers.It was very pink.

Anonymous said...

Chivis, as always you do great work. However, regardles of the distinction Saul Viera was the first narco/corrido singer killed in the U.S.. If you want to urge who was the first killed because of what he sang then chuy takes the cake.

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated, refer to policy for more information.
Envía fotos, vídeos, notas, enlaces o información
Todo 100% Anónimo;

borderlandbeat@gmail.com