Chuy Montana, an emerging star in the booming corridos scene, was found dead in Mexico on Wednesday (Feb. 7).
His body was discovered along the highway connecting Rosarito to Tijuana. According to The San Diego Tribune, Fernando Sánchez, Mexico’s Secretary of Security and Citizen Protection, told local outlets that Cárdenas’s body bore multiple gunshots and was found handcuffed; law enforcement believes that he had been kidnapped prior to death.
Billboard has reached out to Tijuana police.
The Tijuana native, whose real name is Jesús Cárdenas, was part of the music roster at Street Mob Records, a label spearheaded by Jesús Ortiz Paz (JOP), the lead vocalist of Fuerza Regida.
“On behalf of Street Mob Records, we deeply regret the passing of our colleague and brother Chuy Montana,” wrote the label in an Instagram post Thursday. “We stand in solidarity with his family during this time of grief. We kindly request understanding and respect from the media at this difficult moment.”
The label and its artists have contributed significantly to the corridos tumbados and belikeada movement, subgenres of regional Mexican music that have gained notoriety in recent years. Montana’s career was marked by a significant online presence, boasting 816,000 monthly listens on Spotify. He often performed with his guitar for audiences in traffic lines at the Tijuana-San Ysidro border crossing point, where he was discovered by JOP.
According to Punto Norte, a newspaper in Mexico, investigators believe that Montana may have attempted to escape his captors, leading to a chase and eventual fatal shooting. Responding officers found shell casings at the scene, according to the publication; Montana had gunshot wounds to his head and arms.
Montana’s music, particularly his 2023 single “Porte de Scarface,” had enjoyed success, amassing more than 22 million plays on Spotify. His collaboration with Fuerza Regida, “Polvos de Chanel,” also highlighted his rising status in the music industry.
The artist’s death has also raised concerns over the safety of artists in genres associated with contentious themes.
In October 2023, Fuerza Regida was threatened with death by means of a narco banner left in Tijuana. Following the appearance of the threat, the San Bernardino group canceled its concert at the Estadio Caliente in Tijuana, as did Peso Pluma weeks earlier, after having received the same death threat on a tarpaulin signed with the initials CJNG, alluding to the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación.
Tijuana has taken steps to address the glorification of violence in music by banning narcocorridos in public performances, a measure reasserted by Mayor Montserrat Caballero in light of recent events.
The death of Chuy Montana adds to the ongoing trend of violence against artists in the corridos and narcocorridos genres that dates back to Chalino Sánchez’s murder in 1992. Other stars who have fallen victim to violence in the genres include Valentín Elizalde, Ariel Camacho, Zayda Peña, Sergio Gómez, Javier Reyes “El Príncipe del Corrido,” and more.
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