Peso Pluma Cancels Tijuana Concert After Cartel Threats

Peso Pluma, the Mexican singer-songwriter who burst onto the global stage earlier this year, said safety concerns had forced him to cancel his Oct. 14 show in Tijuana, Mexico, just over a week after he was the apparent target of threats from a drug cartel.

The singer, who performed at the MTV Video Music Awards last week, had already postponed a string of concerts in the United States for later this fall. Pluma’s U.S. performances are supposed to resume on Sept. 30 in Chula Vista, Calif.

“Our objective is to protect the fans and our team,” read a statement posted on Wednesday by the singer on Instagram. “For the safety of everyone involved, we will cancel our show in Tijuana.”

Peso Pluma has written and appeared on several tracks dedicated to Joaquín Guzmán Loera, or “El Chapo,” the former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel who is serving a life sentence in an American prison.

Last week, three banners containing threats written in big red letters were spotted in different areas of the border city. They addressed the 24-year-old artist, with one warning him in Spanish to “Refrain from appearing this October 14. Because it will be your last presentation.”

The banners, known as narcomantas, were signed with the initials of Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación, or Jalisco New Generation Cartel, one of Mexico’s most powerful drug cartels and a rival of El Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel.

Authorities told local media last week that they had detained one person in connection with the threats and were investigating.

It was unclear whether the Jalisco New Generation Cartel was responsible for the banners, but narcomantas have been an enduring form of public messaging for organized crime for more than a decade. They often contain messages for authorities, rivals or the public.

Peso Pluma, whose real name is Hassan Emilio Kabande Laija and whose stage name translates to Featherweight, has helped lead an international surge in what is known in the United States under the umbrella term regional Mexican music. He was featured on the hit song “Ella Baila Sola” that reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Global 200 chart.

The singer, who is on a North American concert tour following the release of his album “Génesis,” which reached No. 3 on the Billboard chart upon its release in June, and has tallied hundreds of millions of digital streams. He is best known for corridos tumbados, a modern spin on narcorridos, songs that tell stories of the Mexican drug trade, combining regional Mexican styles like ranchera, norteño, banda and mariachi with influences from American and Latin rap.

Unlike his predecessors, Peso Pluma has reached a level of international stardom that has brought a new audience to the dangers of a genre that are chillingly familiar inside Mexico. Drug cartels have been suspected as ordering the killings of stars including Valentin Elizalde and Chalino Sanchez, who were murdered after performing shows.

While the danger Mexican musicians performing in Mexico face have subsided in recent years, Tijuana has stood out as one of the cities where artists are still routinely threatened, according to Juan Carlos Ramírez-Pimienta, a professor at San Diego State University who has studied the relationship between Mexican music and organized crime.

The cancellation of the Oct. 14 show marks the second time this year Peso Pluma has canceled a performance in the city.

In February, a concert he was scheduled to perform alongside other Mexican artists including Eden Muñoz, Roberto Tapia and El Fantasma was canceled by the organizer, which cited “insecurity and threats towards other events.”

Earlier that month, a meet-and-greet event by the band Grupo Arriesgado at a shopping center was interrupted by the sound of gunfire that prompted the band to cancel its show in the city. Threats against them had also been issued on a narcomanta, Mexican media reported.


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