Puerto Rican Brothers Detained in Mexico
Puerto Rican brothers at the heart of the drug war stand out as unique protagonists, often having abandoned their posts to join cartels; being preyed upon by both cartels and neighbors; cooperating with law enforcement agents while witnessing friends and family being slaughtered; overseeing prosecution in this case by U.S. prosecutor; leading investigation by DEA agent who also has family ties on both sides of the border;
The brothers first came together musically in 2004, with Calle 13 garnering several Latin Grammy awards. Subsequent releases by them included Residente o Visitante (2007), Los de atras vienen conmigo (2008), and Entre los que quieran (2010) – each brother brought his own style and interests while sharing an appreciation for traditional and contemporary Puerto Rican music.
Their music reflected the turbulent times they lived through; lyrics often referenced street gangs, drug trafficking and family conflicts that existed within the island itself. Furthermore, singing in Spanish allowed them to reach audiences beyond its borders.
After spending one year in jail, they were released in June 2021 and resumed their careers as musicians. Their new material was more aggressive and explicit, and live performances were spectacular; their albums La Maquina del Colapso and El Trabajo Es Mio would become top sellers among Latin pop audiences.
But this success came at a price. Both brothers were haunted by personal tragedies and health issues. Cabra, born in San Juan’s middle-class Trujillo Alto neighborhood, struggled with depression and addiction before turning his attention towards computer science – but eventually gravitated back toward music through piano playing, saxophone, flute playing, production and composition.
In 2019, a federal judge sentenced two brothers for drug smuggling. Although they had worked with drug cartels, negotiations had taken place with authorities beforehand, and when arrested there were no weapons or drugs on them at that time. Both brothers appealed against their sentences.
Though their story has largely been overlooked in the media, it serves as a stark reminder that real people exist behind Mexico’s drug war. Their story highlights the voices of all those affected by this conflict – local officials who leave their jobs; families preyed upon by both drug cartels and neighbors; a drug cartel operative who cooperated with government forces while seeing friends and family murdered; as well as an American prosecutor with family ties both ways of the Mexican border – they all live lives that would make George Orwell proud.