Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Thursday, February 1, 2024

BLO Ballads: What the Corridos Tell Us About El Músico

"El Armadillo" for Borderland Beat

Graphics by HEARST

On December 6th, 2023, it was announced that the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) had sanctioned 15 Mexican individuals who had direct and indirect ties to what authorities referred to as the “New Generation” of the Beltran-Leyva Organization. Despite the previous war with Sinaloa, the captures or killings of the core Beltran-Leyva brothers and the splintering thereafter, the US says “...the BLO continues to be one of the most powerful drug trafficking organizations  in the world and is heavily involved in the transportation and distribution of deadly drugs, including fentanyl, to the United States…”

The same day, three indictments were unsealed in the Southern District of California charging 29 foreign nationals with international drug trafficking offenses.

Among the indicted was Oscar Manuel Gastelum Iribe aka “El Músico” and “Salgado”.

Who is El Musico?

Oscar Manuel Gastelum Iribe, 49, is a long-time figure in the BLO, he is leader in its current form and was a high ranking member under the previous leadership of Arturo Beltran Leyva.

He was listed in a 2009 indictment alongside “El Jefe de Jefes”. At the time, the US did not know his name so he is referred to as MANUEL LAST NAME UNKNOWN, a/k/a “Manny,” a/k/a “El Musico” 

“...defendant MANUEL LAST NAME UNKNOWN (“MANUEL LNU”) was associated with the                BELTRAN-LEYVA CARTEL, and acted as a logistical coordinator who coordinated deliveries of multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine and heroin into the United States on behalf of defendant ARTURO BELTRAN LEYVA and the BELTRAN-LEYVA CARTEL, and deliveries of millions of dollars of cash narcotics proceeds to ARTURO BELTRAN-LEYVA and the BELTRAN-LEYVA CARTEL from its customers in the United States…”

“It was further part of the conspiracy that ARTURO BELTRAN-LEYVA, MANUEL LNU, and members of the BELTRAN-LEYVA CARTEL arranged for the transportation of multi-ton quantities of cocaine from Central and South American countries, including Colombia and Panama, to the interior of Mexico, and arranged for the transportation of multi-ton quantities of cocaine, generally in shipments of hundreds of kilograms at a time, as well as multi-kilogram shipments of heroin, from the interior of Mexico to the United States border, and then into and throughout the United States, using various means, including but not limited to private aircraft, submarines and other submersible and semi-submersible vessels, container ships, “go-fast” boats, fishing vessels, buses, tractor trailers, and automobiles.”

His most recent indictment from 2019:

“Beginning at a date unknown to the grand jury and continuing up to and including the date of this indictment, within the country of Ecuador and elsewhere, defendants OSCAR MANUEL GASTELUM URIBE, aka "El Musico” aka "El Salgado,"SERVANDO LOPEZ LOPEZ, aka "Huevo," and JOSE FERNANDO ZAMBADA LEY, aka "Chino," who will first enter the United States in the Southern District of California, did knowingly and intentionally conspire with each other and with other persons known and unknown to the grand jury, to distribute and cause the distribution of a controlled substance, to wit: 5 kilograms and more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine, a Schedule II Controlled Substance; intending, knowing and having reasonable cause to believe that such cocaine would be unlawfully imported into the United States”.

Music about El Musico

Above is what we know from publicly available law enforcement sources, but what else can we piece together about the man allegedly leading one of Mexico’s strongest cartels?

As reported by Borderland Beat in August 2023, twitter user LaMasakr3 shared information about an ongoing conflict in Sinaloa and provided some insight to the structure of the BLO.

“As I mentioned before, some key lieutenants for Chapo Isidro are El Musico, El Sagitario, and El Felino. Chapito Isidro is the former right hand of Alfredo Beltrán Leyva, "El Mochomo." Carlos Manuel Salgado, "El Musico" with deep pockets is more of a mysterious figure who I have researched constantly, and what I can tell you is that he is just as powerful as Chapo Isidro, and his teacher was Arturo Beltrán Leyva, "Jefe de Jefes" or "Boss of Bosses." El Musico was a financial operator for Don Arturo Beltrán Leyva, and it is said that El Musico is married to a daughter of the late Arturo Beltrán Leyva. Sagitario (English: Sagittarius) is reportedly the security chief of Chapo Isidro.”

In Borderland Beat’s exclusive 2023 piece on the crimes of Alfredo Beltran Guzman, son of “El Mochomo” Alfredo Beltran Leyva, we learn the following about El Musico:

"El Músico", Arturo BL's people. Recently, Mochomito’s relationship with El Músico has become strained because they were both with a woman named Dulce A. Mochomito has stated publicly that he wants to kill El Músico.

El Músico is allegedly the brother-in-law of Arturo Beltran Leyva. Músico is currently considered to be an important and wealthy figure within the BLO structure. He has paid for a whole host of corridos extolling his virtues.”

There are indeed quite a few corridos dedicated to the once unnamed trafficker. Given that Oscar Manuel is a musical artist himself, I decided to dive into the songs about him to see what other information we can pull. There is a lot of repetition in these songs so I will not be going deep into each song nor into every song about him.

Unsurprisingly, “El Musico” is a musician, his instrument of choice is the accordion.

The most common detail we see in his corridos is that he wrote “El Ayudante”, the Helper. This song was written by Musico and performed by legendary Sinaloan artist Sergio Vega “El Shaka”.

The corrido is about Arturo Beltran Leyva.

“Me convertí en traficante

Primero ayudante de un hombre famoso

Pero cambiaron las cosas, la vida es curiosa

Hoy soy poderoso”

I became a trafficker, first as an assistant to a famous man, but things have changed, life is strange and now I am powerful. These lyrics are about how Arturo used to work for Amado Carrillo-Fuentes, “El Senor de los Cielos” but now finds himself as a powerful figure in the drug world. The ballad later references Arturo's escape from a prison in Durango.

Sergio Vega was shot and killed in 2010, just hours after dispelling rumors that he had been killed. Musico does not seem to have other musical credits, one could assume he may be a ghostwriter or write under a pen name.

“OFAC also designated brothers Mario German Beltrán Araujo and Amberto Beltrán Araujo, sons of Amberto Beltrán Leyva, who have been involved in drug trafficking on behalf of the BLO.”

Amberto Beltran-Leyva, covered recently on Borderland Beat as a “forgotten” Beltran Leyva brother, has two sons listed in the sanctions. In the song "El Musico" by La Receta it is said that Musico is a good friend of Hector, Amberto, Arturo and Carlos.

Speaking of lesser known BL family members, from the BB sources above, we have two conflicting claims, one that Musico is ABL's son in law, the other, that he is his brother in law. In the music there are no references to Musico being ABL’s in-law at all from what I could gather. I would imagine, if either claim were true, it would be mentioned in a song given how much ABL himself is mentioned.

Another common detail we hear in the corridos is how El Musico began working for Arturo Beltran Leyva at the age of 15. This would have been 1989, around the time the Guadalajara Cartel would splinter and we would have the rise of the Sinaloa Cartel, among others.

Starting out at such a young age, ABL and El Musico developed a mentor-mentee relationship, La Receta's “El Musico” takes it a step further and says that El Musico is like a son for Arturo.

In 2021, Codigo FN released a music video "El Musico'' which features characters playing Musico as an adult and as a youth. As an adult he pays tribute to Arturo by playing El Ayudante on the accordion at a party, as a youth we see Arturo mentoring him. The video was filmed at Rancho Las Tres Aguilas in Jalisco. We see a few symbols in the video from the Mexican game Loteria. One is “El Musico”, a musician, the other is “La Bota”, a white boot, which is a reference to Arturo Beltran Leyva’s nickname, “El Botas Blancas”.

We also see a “La Palma” card, reference to La Palma, Badiraguato, Sinaloa, homeland of Beltran Leyva clan. There are also “El Gallo” and “El Borracho” cards in the video but it is not clear what these are in reference to. El Gallo could be Juvenal Leon Rodriguez “Gallo” who is listed in the sanctions. El Borracho could be Musico himself as we see his character drinking throughout the video.

Los Tres Eslabones

The sanctions from the Treasury department list the men above as the leaders of the BLO. They are known as “Los Tres Eslabones”, the three links. The actual structure of this cartel triumvirate is unclear, are these men operating their own factions under one umbrella? Is there one leader at the head? For now, this remains a mystery. The usage of the word “Eslabones” might suggest that they are like the links on a chain, together, undividable, equal in importance.

It also seems corridos about Los Tres Eslabones or El Musico have only emerged in the past five years or so. Perhaps after he was indicted with his full name in 2019 he felt more free to have his own corridos.

Codigo FN’s "El Chapito Isidro" on Los Tres Eslabones

“En todo el mundo tienen relaciones

Estos grandes señorones

Un gran artista se mira entonando

Con arco y flecha se ve Sagitario

Y el Chapo Isidro de frente al comando”

They have relationships all over the world, these important men. A great artist is seen singing, with a bow and arrow you see Sagitario, and Chapo Isidro at the front of the command.

The artist is obviously Musico and the bow and arrow represents the Sagittarius zodiac symbol for Sagitario. Of the three, we know the least about Pedro Inzunza Noriega, the Sagitario nickname is not very mysterious as his date of birth is November 24th.

Infobae reported that Oscar Manuel Gastelum Iribe owns Los Profetas del Norte, an event and entertainment company. Los Profetas are a music group, not a particularly big one, averaging around 7,500 monthly listeners on Spotify and their biggest video on Youtube sitting at around 550,000 views.

Just weeks after the OFAC hit, Los Profetas released an EP titled “El Amigo Manuel” with the title track almost certainly being about El Musico, though it lacks most of the tropes we see in the other songs. Following “El Amigo Manuel” there is "Sagitario". The lyrics do not provide any real detail but both Chapo Isidro and El Musico get shoutouts. As far as I have seen, this is the only corrido about Sagitario. The rest of the tracks on the EP are covers of romantic songs.

The leadership of the BLO seem to be in agreement about remaining low-key. If you explore the comment sections of any Musico video, you can see comments wondering who El Musico is, some people know enough to call him Oscar/Manuel/Salgado or El 23 which is apparently another name for him.

I do not think the many references to Arturo and “El Ayudante” are a coincidence, like Arturo, El Musico is also El Ayudante, starting his career under a grand capo, growing into a leader. It will be interesting to watch the development of Los Tres Eslabones and their reign over the Beltran Leyva Organization but I have a feeling we won’t be learning much else about them anytime soon.


  1. Interesting article. Thanks for sharing… The fact that El Musico remained with his name hidden for so long is a rarity nowadays. I also remember there’s a CDG / Zetas person mentioned in US indictments with Lazcano and Coss who was referred to as “Lino” or something like that?

    1. Todo un misterio "Lino Quintana"

    2. Ese mero. Quien sabe que rollo con el. Seguida metido? 9:02

    3. Musico? Parec albañil.

  2. Enigma Norteno released Arriba Guasave (Chapito Isidro) few weeks ago which I've had on repeat, they also shout out the man who plays El Ayudante

    1. Guasave se fa rifar and they definitely brought out the toys for the video

  3. He's major. In the podcast series of the Flores Twins, they reference El Musico as someone high ranking and that arranged the rescue of the Flores Twins when they were captured by the Mexican police in Jalisco.

    1. Yes, I had seen references to this online. I heard a brief part where he tells one of the twins that he loves and respects them before the capture. If anyone knows any other specific details from the twins pod I'd encourage to post in the comments here

  4. This foo right here a major fish chapo isidro clan

  5. In Codigo FN Los tres eslabones you guys put They have relationships all over the world, these important men. A great artist is seen singing, with a bow and arrow you see Sagitario, and Chapo Isidro at the front of the command. But the last part is translated wrong what it really says and el Chapo Isidro at the front of the Commando . Not once does it make it seem that chapo Isidro is the leader or holds more power than the other two. The title 3 eslabones literally mean the three links . Like the links in a chain .

    1. The phrasing might read weirdly in English but you are agreeing with me.

  6. The corrido by La nueva Marca : El músico …talks about the truce they have with Culiacán

  7. Músico is married to Arturo’s sister Gloria Beltran Leyva . Making him Arturo brother in law

    1. Gloria es la mujer de Juan josé esparragoza Monzon el negro

    2. Negro married a BLO relative that’s been 100% confirmed. Azul & LT negotiated the truce after Chapparito was picked up.

  8. El mas grande de Sinaloa

  9. IDK if this song "El Ayudante de Lino" was written before or after "El Ayudante" as they're both from the 90's and performed primarily and made famous by one of the numerous Hermanos Vega (Ramon✝️, Sergio✝️, Chuy, Cornelio
    and Fredie) from Hornos, Sonora.
    Anyone know how to check dates regarding composer copyright/registration?


  10. Saludo al SEÑOR DE LAS LETRAS
    AL MÚSICO SE LE RESPETA Badiraguato y su tierra
    Los que hacen fuerte la cadena
    Desparramados por los ranchos tengo unas Gavillas
    Cada una con su comandante jefe de cuadrilla
    Aunque ya no estamos en guerra cuido la tierrita
    Si el gobierno se pone terco los comandos brincan
    Al frente las dobles rodado
    Con los tostones empotrados y el CHAPO ISIDRO coordinando
    Ahora todo está más calmado
    Nos enfocamos en trabajo, en el producto colombiano

    Ya se está asomando diciembre a ver quién organiza
    La cosa va pa' la plebada que trae la camisa
    Recordando mi vida en vida andamos en la artista
    Y son cinco los pistoleros que entran a la rifa
    Que si hay con que lo he demostrado
    Si hay amistad les doy mi mano
    Si hay que chambear para eso estamos
    El traidor está sentenciado a la lealtad siempre he premiado
    Cuando el personaje pesa hay buen corrido
    Y a este le sobran hazañas pa' escribir un libro
    Con un riflon en el pecho comenzó el amigo
    Con los HERMANOS BELTRÁN LEYVA siempre estuvo el tiro
    Sa gano el titulo en la mafia
    En la escuela Del Botas Blancas trae un clicon en caravanas
    No es porque a mí me guste el pleito
    Yo simplemente me defiendo pa' agarrarme jeh no está pelada

  11. No one wld of know that he was the top boss od the blo if he didnt snitched on himself thru music. Fucking idiot.

  12. 3 Highly experienced and battle tested Dudes... BLO is Very smart

  13. Los Novillos de la Sierra have had BLO corridos on lock for the last couple of years... Arturo and his people were big fish back then, someone was going to continue his infamous rain to this day.

  14. Musico also wrote "promesa cumplida"

  15. The flores twins talk about musico in their interview/podcast with 50 cent. Surviving el chapo. It's a good listen


    I wanna know more about this guy..

  17. Los Profertas le cantaba a Arturo y son los que respondieron al corrido En Preparación eñde parte de Arturo. Pero también le hacían corridos a Panchito el F1.


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