“HEARST” and “Sol Prendido” for Borderland Beat
Marco Antonio Flores, the singer-turned-politician who once played private gigs for Zetas cartel figure El Lazca, announced that he would be closing his hotel in Zacatecas because the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) has been threatening his employees.
Warning: Some graphic images below this point.
Marco & Banda Jerez
In the late 1980s, a local music teacher named Perfecto Flores created a band in the town of Jerez, Zacatecas, which was made up of his music students. Later on his son, a singer named Marco Antonio Flores, began performing with the group. In 2000, the band became more formalized and took on the name “La No. 1 Banda Jerez with Marco A. Flores”, often shortened to just “Banda Jerez”.
Later that year, the group released their first album, titled “Nomás Por Ti Me Emborracho”, produced by Sony Music. One of the album’s songs called “La Cabrona” proved to be a hit and became popular in both Mexico and the United States.
Banda Jerez went on to become a successful group, releasing a number of albums between 2004 – 2014. The group primarily focused on re-working traditional ranchera songs which focus on generic themes of love and heartache. They were considered to be a clean band, which was not particularly known for singing narco corridos.
Narco corridos are songs which praise the criminal endeavors of a certain cartel figure, which are paid for by the cartel figure themselves. Banda Jerez did, however, have a few songs in their discography which wax rhapsodic about the generic narco lifestyle, such as El Comboy and El Zacatecano.
The band began taking a number of high-profile gigs from cartel figures in 2012. According to newspaper El Universal, on February 2, 2012, the group played a concert in Pachuca, Hidalgo, for a Los Zetas leader named Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, alias “El Lazca”. The concert celebrated a church which Lazca built in the area.
El Universal wrote that the group sang “a corrido dedicated to Lazcano […] The lyrics mention the dispute between Los Zetas and other cartels. The support and backing that Lazcano gives Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales, Z-40, as well as the respect he has for Jesús Enrique Rejón Aguilar, El Mamito.”
On April 22, 2012, the band was allegedly paid to perform a private concert for Lazca again, this time in honor of his girlfriend’s birthday, according to newspaper Orlando Sentinel. The concert was held in Monclova, Coahuila.
At about 1:30 am, federal law enforcement raided the concert in an attempt to arrest Lazca, but the Zetas figure managed to slip away. The members of Banda Jerez were escorted to the federal Attorney General’s Office and interrogated about who was at the party and who hired them to perform.
The band’s attorney, Enrique Frausto, stated that his clients did not have any direct contact with the people who hired them for concerts. He emphasized that the band was not arrested by federal authorities and was merely asked about how many people attended the event and who was at the gig.
In June 2012, Banda Jerez released the song El Comandante 50, a narco-corrido which glorifies a Zetas leader named Iván Velázquez Caballero, alias “El Talibán”, who operates in the group’s home state of Zacatecas.
The month after their song praising Zetas’ El Talibán was released, Banda Jerez’s lead singer Marco Flores was kidnapped, allegedly by members of the rival cartel group the Gulf Cartel.
Marco Flores was abducted while traveling to his ranch in Jerez, Zacatecas, and held in captivity for a month while his kidnappers negotiated a ransom price with his family. In the end, his family was said to have paid $5 million pesos for his safe release. (Equivalent to $8,145,258 pesos in 2023, or $441,680 USD in 2023.)
Marco Antonio was later interviewed about the kidnapping, as seen in the video above. He said as follows, as translated by Sol Prendido:
Male Reporter: After living the most terrifying month of his life after being kidnapped by an armed criminal cell near his ranch in Zacatecas, Marco Antonio Flores, lead singer of the musical group Banda Jerez, shares the details of the ordeal.
Marco Flores: It was a group of armed men in a truck with police lights. They stopped us, they stopped me, I was handcuffed, blinded, and they took me away. There were insults, there were blows, there was everything the first day. Sometimes we ate very little, a tortilla or something daily.
Male Reporter: During his days in captivity Marcó was threatened with death countless times. But he tried to have a peaceful relationship with his guards and even sang to them.
Reporter #2: At any time did they talk about killing you?
Marco Flores: Every day, very often. I remember telling one of the guys who was guarding me that if the order was as they say kill them. Well, I wanted it to be over quick. Once in a while I’d sing a song or something so that everything felt a little smoother there.
Male Reporter: Once free the singer received medical attention and chose not to report it.
Marco Flores: A few days ago they released me and I was hospitalized. I was a little relieved because of the medicine, because of everything, I had infections, I had everything. I don’t want any problems. I don’t know who they are.
Male Reporter: Now he is trying to enjoy his family more while he decides where he will live, the United States being a possibility.
Marco Flores: In all the time I have been working, I have never really been there with them. I’m always working. Trying to save some money, save something for the kids, for their school. There’s a real possibility of me moving to the United States.
Female Reporter: What would be left for you to make this decision?
Marco Flores: I’d have to see what my wife wants.
The Concert Beat Down
Marco Flores ended up not moving to the US and he continued to lead the group. Years later, on September 6, 2015, Banda Jerez were invited to perform a set at a horse race, in the US, at Kersey, Colorado.
During their performance Marco ran off the stage, jumped a fence, and attempted to beat a man with his microphone stand. His bandmates, their security team, and others tried to break the fight apart and hold Marco back. Video of this incident can be seen below.
Marco later explained that the man he attacked was one of the cartel figures who kidnapped him. Marco says he recognized the kidnapper in the crowd and at some point the man “provoked him from below the stage.”
It’s interesting to note that an article noted that “the person the singer hit also had a lot of security with him.” This seems to imply that the kidnapper Marco attempted to fight was important enough to have his own security team. It is also interesting to note that this security team was brought to a public event in the US.
His Time as a Politician
In 2016, Marco Antonio made his first foray into politics, running for governor for the Encuentro Social political party, in a race which he ultimately lost.
In 2018, he ran to be a representative for Zacatecas in federal Congress, for the political party coalition PT-Morena-PES, which he also lost.
Then in 2021, he ran for the same position and won the election, being a congressman representing Zacatecas.
He did not quit music however – something which got him roundly criticized in April 2022 when he skipped out on a congressional discussion of electrical reform due to two Banda Jerez concerts he played in the US.
His Business Venture and the Increasing Violence
In January 2019, before he won his seat in Congress, Marco Flores attempted to open a hotel/gift shop in Jerez, Zacatecas, which was called La Cabrona, named after one of Banda Jerez’s popular songs.
The hotel was located inside a historic mansion in a central part of downtown Jerez. The singer had the mansion remodeled and renovated into a hotel, with all the work completed by January 2019.
Marco Flores struggled to open it, however, because the federal electricity commission insisted his hotel needed a $450,000 high-consumption electrical substation, with a $150,000 install fee. Marco spoke out against this, saying the electricity commission was extorting him, in a way, because his hotel was not needing electricity at a high-consumption rate.
After negotiation back and forth between the commission and the hotel, an agreement was reached and La Cabrona hotel/gift shop was officially opened in April 2019.
The gift shop section of the hotel sold merchandise for the band, as well as bottles from Marco Flores’ alcohol brand. The hotel featured rooms named after popular songs from Banda Jerez.
Below is a video released in 2022 by La Cabrona Hotel, which shows the hotel and its location within the downtown area of Jerez.
In 2020, an exodus began. As the territorial war between Sinaloa Cartel – Mayo and the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) heated up, residents in certain areas of Zacatecas began to leave their homes, traveling to other areas to temporarily escape the full-out battles taking place. Jerez is a town which was hit particularly hard and many locals fled the area.
In February 2022, Marco Flores spoke out at a congressional event about the violence which was plaguing Zacatecas. He said “If the federal government doesn’t listen to us, I myself am going to summon the people to take up arms up there, it is not fair.”
Marco was joined by a spokesman for Jerez residents who were forced to flee their homes, who requested anonymity for fear of retribution, spoke up about how they were still being billed by the federal electricity commission for electricity to the houses that they had left years ago.
Humberto Salazar, mayor of Jerez, urged the congressmen to listen to the voice of a dying people and asked for concrete action to help thousands of families who live without being able to return to their homes, saying “They cannot work, due to the unsafe conditions we are experiencing. In the provinces they are suffering. Here in Jerez they are suffering.”
“I want to ask you, with all due respect -and believe me, I know that as a surgeon, if I didn’t fix the problem, my patient would die – that’s why I am so sure that we have to be decisive, because Jerez is dying due to the lack of safety.”
Later that year, Marco Flores announced that his driver had been killed in a random attack of violence which killed four others.
“A group of hitmen arrived at the bar in Fresnillo and opened fire on all those who were there, without distinction- as if it were an act of terrorism against the innocent population, where my driver was. He was an innocent person.”
La Cabrona Hotel Closing
On Tuesday, March 21, 2023, Marco posted an announcement to his Facebook, shown below.
It reads, as follows:
Hello my people, on this occasion would like to tell you that we are closing the doors of the hotel La Cabrona because my employees were threatened by people who claim to be from the Jalisco cartel.
The guys who are threatening them are well known in town. I want to let people, in general, know to be very careful in coming to Zacatecas, do not trust anyone and if you can avoid [visiting], that might be better.
Marco Flores later commented that he had previously privately asked for help from authorities but they seemed to always “leave him in the dark” so he hoped going public would help them to listen to him.
“I hope that now they will listen to me […] they need to stop the wave of crime and insecurity that we live in Zacatecas”.
Banda Jerez Sources: El Universal, Orlando Sentinel, Scanner Sound, La Silla Rota Video, TodoPorMexico, El Diario, El Siglo
The Kidnapping: Archived Regional Mex Article 1, Article 2
Concert Beatdown Sources: El Siglo Coahuila, Soy Grupero, La Opinion, POBLANOPOWER
His Time as a Politician Sources: Dallas News Article 1, Article 2, Milenio
His Business Venture & Announcement Sources: The Hotel’s Facebook Page, Milenio, Borderland Beat Archive
Hotel Closing Down Sources: Marco Flores Facebook Announcement, His Follow Up Post, Informador, Latin US Article 1, Article 2, SDP Noticias, Sopitas, Hidrocalido Digital, El Financiero
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