A masked man opened fire on a band playing popular norteno music Saturday in a Chihuahua city dance hall, killing five musicians, four customers and injuring 10 others.
Chihuahua prosecutors spokesman Carlos Gonzalez said the attack appeared to target members of the La Quinta Banda group but the motive behind the early morning shooting wasn’t clear. The suspect, a short man wearing a gray sweatshirt, fired about 40 times with a high-caliber weapon in the Far West disco.
Among the dead was an off-duty police officer, Gonzalez said.
Norteno singers in Mexico have been targeted before, apparently for getting involved with drug cartels, which pay them to compose narcocorridos, or ballads that glorify drug lords.
In 2010, popular norteno singer Sergio Vega was shot dead as he road in his red Cadillac in Sinaloa, a state that has produced many of Mexico’s most notorious drug kingpins. Another Norteno singer killed was Valentin Elizalde, “El Gallo de Oro,” who was shot to death along with his manager and driver in 2006 following a performance in Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas.
La Quinta Banda was well-known in the city of Chihuahua, but not nearly as popular as Elizalde or Vega.
Its MySpace account showcases songs mostly about love and parties.
Photos from local newspapers showed the bloody bodies of the band members lying next to their instruments on stage. Four people were killed in another shooting at the same dance hall in August 2009.
People who answered cell phones listed for La Quinta Banda identified themselves as relatives of the musicians but didn’t want to give their names.
The band had reduced its workload, while sometimes playing at extravagant parties in ranches, because of increased drug violence in the northern state.
Also on Saturday, federal police announced the capture of a leader of one armed gang hired by the world’s most powerful drug lord Joaquin Guzman, also known as El Chapo.
Jose Antonio Torres Marrufo, 33, is the suspected leader of Gente Nueva, an armed wing of the Sinaloa Cartel mainly based in the border city of Ciudad Juarez. Federal police agents arrested Torres with his bodyguard Friday in the central Mexican city of Leon.
Federal police anti-drug chief Ramon Pequeno said Torres is accused of being the mastermind behind a September 2009 massacre at a rehab center where 18 people were killed.
Torres has an arrest warrant in El Paso, Texas, on drug trafficking charges, Pequeno said.