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Grammy winner sang at drug cartel's party

[ 2009-12-16 10:59]     字号 [] [] []  
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When soldiers raided a drug cartel's Christmas party south of Mexico City, they found 16 automatic rifles, $280,000 in cash - and a Latin Grammy winner.

The presence of the Texas-based norteno singer Ramon Ayala at the gathering in a wealthy, gated-community and the lavish festivities showed the audacity of Mexico's drug cartels amid a government crackdown that has sent thousands of soldiers and police to track them down.

A spokesman for the federal Attorney General's Office said on Monday that Ayala was released after being questioned because authorities found no grounds for charging him with a crime.

Mexican norteno bands often sing about drug trafficking and violence and many have been rumored to perform at drug traffickers' weddings and other parties, but few have been caught in the public spotlight.

Ayala and his norteno band, Los Bravos del Norte, were performing in a gated community of mansions outside the mountain town of Tepoztlan when soldiers raided the house and a shootout ensued before dawn on Friday, said the official, who was not authorized to be quoted by name.

Three gunmen were killed and 11 others suspected of working for the Beltran Leyva drug cartel were detained, and $280,000 in cash and 16 automatic rifles were seized, the navy said.

Stray bullets shattered the windows of a nearby home where Maura Cristina Lopez works as a maid. She said she was shocked at the violence in the bucolic neighborhood, where troops in trucks patroled on Monday.

"It's always been quiet," she said.

"This scares me."

Tepotzlan, just south of Mexico City, is popular with foreign and Mexican tourists because of its cobblestone streets and the ruins of a pre-Columbian pyramid built atop a mountain.

Ayala, a Mexican accordionist and norteno singer who lives in Hidalgo, Texas, has a large following along the Mexico-US border and has won two Latin Grammys.

Each year, he hosts a Christmas festival in Hidalgo, a free event that includes music, food and the opportunity for impoverished children to line up at Ayala's home to receive a ticket for a free gift.

The Hidalgo city website said Ayala was scheduled to host the event on Wednesday.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Grammy winner sang at drug cartel's party

About the broadcaster:

Grammy winner sang at drug cartel's party

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.