Pop songs romanticizing murder and corruption among drug cartels and federales (Mexican national police) have been a staple in Mexican culture since the '60s, writes William T. Vollmann in the July/August issue of Mother Jones.
Through a series of intimate encounters, Vollmann explores the complicated role the baladas prohibidas, or narcocorridos, play in the lives of people in Mexico, many of whom understandably vilify corrupt authorities and uphold drug lords as idyllic figures of honor and bravery, seemingly without a sense of fear for their own lives. But recently balladas prohibidas have come under fire, and even been banned from certain Mexican radio stations and outlawed altogether in Baja California. He writes:
The policeman Carlos Pérez said that some of the most famous ballads were about Jesús Malverde, whom he called the patron saint of the narcotraffickers. He lived in Sinaloa. He was Robin Hood. He sold drugs and used the money to help the people. He was killed in a gun battle because he didn't want to give himself up. Some say he was never caught. Some say he died of old age, and others say that he is still alive. Everybody has his own story
Below are some popular narcocorridos we dug up from YouTube.