Aldo Sarabia, a member of fabled Mexican Banda El Recodo de Don Cruz Lizárraga, who had been missing since Oct. 13, was found dead in Mazatlan, Mexico, this morning. News reports from Mexico indicated that he had been punched several times and shot in the neck. In addition, a source familiar with the incident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Srabia’s face was “destroyed with a shovel.”
Those familiar with the particulars surrounding Sarabia’s death are saying organized crime did not gun down the victim, as has happened with other Mexican musicians over the past years. However, published reports indicate Sarabia’s wife was arrested in relation to the crime. A spokesperson for the band confirmed the arrest, but said that no one from the group was detained as other published reports have indicated.
According to a Facebook post written by Rene Vargas, who manages El Recodo’s office in Los Angeles, the Mazatlan District Attorney’s office confirmed that Sarabia’s wife, Alma Delia Chávez Guerrero, had been arrested along with a man named Jair Sandoval Estrada. They both confessed to the murder, which D.A. Marco Antonio Higuera Gómez called a passion crime.
According to authorities, Sarabia was killed Oct. 14. Chavez Guerrero had an extramarital relationship with Sandoval Estrada, which the two carried out when Sarabia traveled with Banda El Recodo. The day of the murder, Sarabia came home and took his wife out to dinner. The pair got into the wife’s SUV, where Sandoval Estrada was hidden. Before arriving to the restaurant, said the DA, Sandoval Estrada shot Sarabia in the neck. The body was dumped on a side road where it was found this morning.
A press conference by the District Attorney’s office in the area is scheduled for this afternoon with reports pointing to a confession and more details to come.
Earlier in the day, members of El Recodo released a statement on the band’s twitter account.
“He was our partner and inspiration in a thousand battles and all those moments we shared will live in the heart of those who knew him,” read the statement. “Aldo Sarabia García was a great friend and family man. A person with a great sense of humor, a musician who mastered harmony and percussion and a human being of exceptional qualities.”
Sarabia was last seen Oct. 12, after the group played a show in San Jose, CA, and returned to Mazatlan. “Once everybody gets home, everyone gets on with their lives and with their families,” said Poncho Lizarraga in an interview. “But on Tuesday, my cousin asked me to call Aldo because he hadn’t heard from him at all.”
Sarabia was a trumpet player with El Recodo, the 18-man troupe that’s long been referred to as “the mother of all bands.” Those “bands” are the traditional banda sinaloense — or band from the state of Sinaloa — which are fully acoustic and brass and percussion-based. Although today’s Mexican music landscape is chock-full of bandas, El Recodo led the pack as the first such group with commercial appeal, the first group to modernize the banda sound, the first banda to experiment with genres like pop and tropical and the first banda to gain international recognition.
And although violence and death have plagued regional Mexican musicians in Mexico for over a decade now, El Recodo — a musical and cultural institution — has never been associated with any drugs or violence of any kind. Indeed, the group, which has recorded with pop acts like Thalia, does not perform corridos nor does it sing about anything remotely controversial.
“In the history of El Recodo, we have never been threatened or intimidated anywhere and not anywhere inside Mexico,” bandleader Poncho Lizárraga told Diario Basta in Mexico yesterday, before the body was found. “On the contrary, we have already received unwavering support and affection.”
Founded 76 years ago by Don Cruz Lizárraga, the group today is led by his sons, and was honored last year with Billboard’s Legado Musical — Musical Legacy Award — at the third annual Billboard Mexican Music Awards. El Recodo have placed more than 25 singles on the Top 20 of Billboard’s regional Mexican airplay charts.