'Cry in the mountains': Chapo arrest inspires ballads

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Culiacan (Mexico) (AFP)

A band sings about "people crying in the mountains" in one of the many "narco ballads" inspired by the recapture of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

It didn't take long for narcocorridos, as the controversial genre is known, to emerge on the Internet and in the streets of Mexico after Guzman was arrested in his northwestern home state of Sinaloa on January 8.

The 58-year-old Sinaloa drug cartel leader has long been a muse for bands that glorify such infamous characters with beats driven by guitars, accordion, tuba and drums -- and violence-laced lyrics.

Guzman has nurtured a Robin Hood image in the remote mountain towns of Sinaloa, where he hid until his capture by marines in the seaside city of Los Mochis.

The sombrero-wearing group La Ventaja performed its new song in the capital of Sinaloa, Culiacan, a bastion of Guzman's criminal organization.

Their song goes: "When I arrived at the mountain range, from afar I saw a little old lady crying. What's happening ma'am? They caught 'El Chapo.' If the news is right, poverty beckons."

Irvin Sanchez, La Ventaja's singer and accordionist, said the song titled "People Crying in the Mountains" does not seek to "praise or offend anybody."

But his tune does predict a third escape for Guzman, who has fled twice from maximum-security prisons, the first time by hiding in a laundry cart in 2001 and the second time through a tunnel in July.

The song says: "Don't worry, they'll soon release him. Otherwise, he'll escape again, that has been confirmed."

- Controversial genre -

Other songs about the thrice-arrested drug baron that have appeared online include "The Lord's Recapture" by Conjunto Dinamico and "El Chapo's Capture III" by El Morro.

One of the country's most famous narcocorrido stars, Alfredo Rios, who goes by the stage name "El Komander," is preparing to release his own song, "El Chapo Has Fallen."

Last week, just days after Guzman's arrest, Rios performed the song in front of the house in Los Mochis where Guzman had been hiding before it was raided by gun-toting troops.

"The gunfire from rifles was heard in Los Mochis, Sinaloa. Who could've imagined? It's already in the news, the big scoop, El Chapo Guzman has fallen," Rios sings in a video posted on YouTube.

Narcocorridos have many fans and detractors in Mexico, where some local governments have sought to prevent bands from performing them in concerts.

Rios was fined nearly $8,000 in 2013 for performing such songs in Chihuahua, a northern state plagued by brutal drug violence.

The bands sometimes get too close to the action they sing about: More than 50 performers have been killed in the country amid a drug war that has left tens of thousands of people dead since 2006.

- The kingpin and the actress -

But this has not deterred drug balladeers.

While Mexican authorities have launched proceedings to extradite Guzman to the United States, another band is predicting another great escape from the Altiplano prison, where he was returned after his arrest.

"This story's not over because 'El Chapo' is still alive. Don't be fooled, sirs, I know what I'm talking about, he surely has a plan, even though the gringos want him," sings Gonzalo Pena, known as "La Pantera del Corrido."

Guzman's surprise meeting with US star Sean Penn and Mexican-American actress Kate Del Castillo has also earned a few lyrics.

Revelations about the get-together have provided much material, especially after authorities said that Guzman was captured in part because the married drug lord was obsessed with seeing Del Castillo, 43, again.

Authorities are now investigating whether Guzman invested in Del Castillo's tequila company.

Pena wrote one of those songs, "The Hen that Laid the Golden Eggs," wailing that "they want to investigate her because Guzman gave her an interview. Look for the rats and moles, let's see what comes up."

"The news was like a bomb," he sings. "A woman has always been the weakness of the great ones."