Friday, March 9, 2018

Who actually killed El Gallo de Oro, Valentin Elizalde and why?

Written by Otis B Fly-Wheel

Reporter: Otis B Fly-Wheel
Born on the 1st of February in 1979 in Hitonhueca, Sonora. His mother was Camila Valencia, he had two brothers and a sister. He lived there for five years before moving with his father Everado “Lalo” El Gallo Elizalde and his brothers to Guadalajara, Jalisco. Then moved again to Guasave, Sinaloa. His childhood seems to have been unremarkable. None of the towns he lived in were particularly poverty stricken, so his upbringing was unlike a lot of his predecessors in the corrido business, who came from poverty in the small mountain rancheros of the Sinaloa mountains.

His father was a musician who died in a road traffic accident on the “curve of death” in Sonora. His father left him an inheritance, so while building his skills as a musician he studied for a Law degree at the University of Sonora, but left University to pursue his musical career.
Valentin created his own group in the banda style, with a large brass section called Banda Guasavena. Before forming his own group he sang with other bands among them Banda Triguera from Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, Banda Cosala, and Banda Hermanos Morales.

His sights were firmly set on a recording and in 1998 he managed to record his first album entitled Mas alla del mar or Beyond the sea. This was recorded by Discos y Cintas Acuario, owned by Pedro Rivera, who had given Chalino Sanchez his first major record deal.

He recorded albums with Pedro until 2001. In 2002 he was discovered and groomed by Universal Music Group with whom he signed exclusive contracts. This was the right move for Valentin and he was nominated for many music awards with them.

El Gallo de Oro was killed in Reynosa in 2006 after giving a concert at  the Reynosa Palenque. He was gunned down with his chauffeur and manager in his vehicle while leaving the concert. There are three competing theories as to why he was killed and we will look at each in turn.

Some weeks before the concert there was a video posted on you-tube by the user Matazetas or Zetakiller. It was set to El Gallo de Oro’s song “A mis enemigos” or “To my enemies”. It contained pictures over which the song played. The pictures were of Cartel del Golfo members and Los Zetas who had been killed. The song itself is allegedly a threat from El Chapo Guzman to the Cartel del Golfo, although I do not read that myself in the lyrics.

Los Zetas were the armed wing and personal bodyguard of Osiel Cardenas Guillen, the then boss of the Cartel del Golfo. All were military deserters from the Mexican army and Air force special operations unit GAFE, Grupo Aeromobile Fuerzas Especiales, probably the best soldiers in the Mexican armed forces.

The video posting on you-tube started off a war of words in the comments section which turned particularly nasty with cheerleaders of both the Sinaloa Cartel and Los Zetas trading insults and death threats. You-tube took down the video but copies of it sprung up straight away. The video was seen purely as a taunt against Los Zetas, who would later go to war with the Sinaloa Cartel, who moved into Los Zetas territory to try and take the Nuevo Laredo plaza.

In my humble opinion, the video was certainly not the work of El Gallo de Oro, but as his song had been used a background, he was tagged with it. In Mexico, to insult CdG/Los Zetas then go into their turf is not a particularly wise thing to do.

There was certainly threats made against El Gallo de Oro before he arrived in Reynosa for his concert. Whether he knew of these or not, or just decided to ignore them, is a matter of speculation. On leaving with his manager and chauffeur from the concert venue, his vehicle was followed and then chased, El Gallo de Oro’s vehicle was then fired on and all three occupants were killed as a result. Forensic specialists recovered 70 spent shell casings from the scene. 

Just a few hours after the killing, insults to Elizalde were put up on social media, laughing at the fact he had been killed and saying “ he cried like a bitch”. There were two main people suspected from Los Zetas as being responsible for his killing. El Hummer, Jaime Gonzalez Duran, a deserter of GAFE. He was one of the founding members of Los Zetas. The second person suspected of the killing was Flanders 1, Raul Hernandez Barron, an ex-member of the Mexican Army, who joined the Cartel del Golfo after leaving the Army in 1999, and was then made up into Los Zetas.

El Hummer

Flanders 1 Raul Hernandez Barron

GAFE are not the type of forces who are spray and pray, they use surgical precision in their shooting. Preferring single aimed shots rather than volume of un-aimed fire by a weapon like an AK47. Given the shot patterns on the vehicle, which are not what I would expect from an experienced special- forces operator, I would rule out El Hummer as the shooter as well.

The Cartel de Golfo had many, many, sicarios at the time. Los Zetas were used only for particular work, there was only originally 31 of them, and they could not cover a whole city the size of Reynosa. I suspect that given the ballistics, the shooters were CdG sicarios and not Los Zetas that carried out this assassination.

If Los Zetas wanted to kill Valentin, I suspect it would have been an operation that was planned meticulously. His vehicle would have been boxed in and stopped, and he would have been kidnapped then killed, or shot inside his vehicle. Or more likely he would have been kidnapped from his changing room at the venue. 

This hit was messy, with bullets being sprayed all along the vehicle. The killing was much more of the type carried out by coked up sicarios with little or no training, with their weapon of choice the AK47 because they are cheap, and the average sicario knows no better.

Take for example the vehicle of Jaime Zapata, ICE agent killed by Los Zetas in Mexico, outside of San Luis Potosi. The vehicle shows very few bullet strikes, those that are obvious are clustered where the fire was restricted to trying to drill through any armour plating on the vehicle. In comparison, El Gallo de Oro's vehicle looks like a piece of Swiss cheese.

El Gallo de Oro's vehicle

Jaime Zapata's vehicle note the compact bullet strikes on the window
The second theory concerns a note received by Valentin during the concert itself. In a video of the concert, a man can clearly be seen walking up to the stage during a song, and handing Valentin a slip of paper, which he reads as he is singing.

In the above picture, the man who brought the note and the note can be seen in the right hand of Valentin. Allegedly this note contained a request for Valentin to attend and sing for a narco after the concert had finished. When he had finished singing and retired to his dressing room, “persons” attended his dressing room and again asked for him to attend the narco to sing for his private party. Valentin said that he was tired and had to go to a pre-arranged meeting in another town, so would not be able to attend the party.

The “persons” left, for a short while, and then returned to again request his attendance. He said he would not be able to attend and left the venue in his vehicle with his manager and driver and cousin. He was then attacked by the narco’s men and killed.

I find this a much more likely reason than the former for the killing of Valentin. Given the evidence. I have no doubt Los Zetas knew that Valentin had nothing to do with the video that had appeared on youtube. The sloppiness of the attack, even if it was successful, I think rules out Los Zetas.

The third theory is that Valentin had become romantically involved with a wife of a narco and this was a crime of passion. This also could be a valid reason, as the constant stream of women who step up to dance with Valentin at all his concerts leaves us in no doubt as to his popularity with the ladies.
Of the three theories, I find the second most likely.

 CBS news in an article about the death of Fabian Ortega Pinon, quoted Edgar Valdez Villareal, La Barbie, notorious hit man for the Beltran Leyva Cartel as saying “ cartels kill grupero musicians because they go around with different groups or cartels, and because they didn’t go and sing for a certain narco, or for other silly reasons”. Cartels often sponsor corrido singers when they start their careers, and expect services in return. These relationships can turn sour when requests are not fulfilled.