The regional Mexican music group Grupo Firme has recently enjoyed immense popularity. One of their most beloved and requested songs during concerts is the narcocorrido “Se Fue La Pantera.” This melodic tale of a cartel operator’s violent end has captivated audiences.
The Panther and His Boss
The song tells the story of Jesús Esteban Espinoza Velázquez, an operator for Dámaso López, known as “El Licenciado.” López was a high-ranking member of the Sinaloa Cartel seeking to seize control after the second arrest of cartel boss Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán in 2014.
Velázquez’s nickname was La Pantera (“The Panther”). According to former cartel plaza boss Camilo Ochoa, he was one of El Licenciado’s top leaders during the cartel’s internal power struggle against Los Chapitos, Chapo Guzmán’s sons.
The Panther Gunned Down
On August 31, 2014, La Pantera’s story ended violently. As the song recounts: “It was a hail of bullets, the panther left very badly, today he is in Jardines del Humaya.”
That evening, around 9:00 pm, Velázquez and his bodyguards Alberto Montero Lizárraga and Jorge Humberto Urquiza Portillo were massacred in an ambush on the La Paz-Los Planes highway in Baja California Sur. Local media reported that over 40 bullets were fired, and the killers finished them off with coup de grâce shots to the forehead.
Jardines del Humaya in Culiacán, mentioned in the song, is an opulent cemetery where many Sinaloa cartel bosses are buried in lavish mausoleums. That’s where La Pantera was laid to rest after his brutal assassination.
The song’s catchy melody and lyrics glamorizing cartel violence have made it a hit. But Grupo Firme singer Eduin Caz drew criticism last year for creating a pop-style dance choreography for “Se Fue La Pantera.” Some fans ridiculed the dance moves for a narcocorrido, while detractors claimed Caz was overly commercializing the regional Mexican genre.
Caz defends wanting to experiment with new things in the genre, like being one of the first not to wear traditional regional Mexican clothing. The choreography controversy shows how Grupo Firme pushes boundaries with its narcocorrido hits.