Pubdate: Thu, 21 Dec 2017
Source: Morning Call (Allentown, PA)
Copyright: 2017 The Morning Call Inc.



Juan Luis Lagunas Rosales was born in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, a
mecca for cartels and the land of notorious drug lord Joaquin "El
Chapo" Guzman. Lagunas grew up never knowing his father. His mother
left him with his grandmother as a child.

Lagunas left his hometown at the age of 15 without finishing high
school, moving to the nearby municipality of Culiacan and washing cars
to make a living, he said in an interview in July. It was in this
adopted town that he took on the nickname that would later become
known across cyberspace: "El Pirata de Culiacan," or "The Pirate of

He started landing invitations to more and more parties, and soon fell
into a life of excessive drinking. He would post videos on social
media showing him chugging beer and bottles of whiskey, sometimes
getting so drunk he would pass out. The videos started going viral. In
the years that followed, the bingeing teenager became a perverse
YouTube sensation. At the age of 17, he racked up more than a million
followers on Facebook and more than 300,000 on Instagram. His social
media fame started earning him spots in music videos and at
promotional events.

His baby face, matched with his belligerent, clownish behavior,
entertained the masses. Yet it was easy to forget that he was still a
boy. He drew a beard on his chin to look older. He tattooed his arms -
a pirate on one, a tiger on the other. He posted pictures on Instagram
with large guns, half-naked women and luxury cars.

The drinking age in Mexico is 18, but "El Pirata de Culiacan" drank as
if he had no limits. Like many teenage boys, he lived as if he was
invincible, saying whatever he wanted about whomever he wanted. It was
all a big game, a big party.

But in Sinaloa, one of Mexico's most violent states, no one is
invincible - especially when you mess with the wrong people.

In one recent video posted online, a seemingly intoxicated Lagunas was
recorded taking a stab at Nemesio Ocegera Cervantes, also known as "El
Mencho." Cervantes happens to be one of Mexico's most dangerous drug
lords, according to U.S. government officials, the leader of the New
Generation Cartel of Jalisco.

And on Monday night, while he and his friends partied at a bar in
Jalisco, a group of armed individuals burst in and fired at Lagunas,
the Attorney General of Jalisco, Raul Sanchez Jimenez, told Mexican
media outlets. The teenager died, sustaining between 15 and 18 bullet
wounds. Authorities managed to identify Lagunas by his tattoos.

Prosecutors have not determined the identities or motives of those
responsible. But they confirmed to news outlets that they are
investigating a possible link to the recent videotaped insult toward
El Mencho.

El Mencho is one of the last people anyone would want to offend.

His cartel, the New Generation, is relatively new, coalescing less
than a decade ago. It stemmed from the remnants of another group, the
Milenio cartel, and makes money by selling guns, stealing gasoline,
extortion and kidnapping, The Washington Post's Josh Partlow wrote in
2015. It is one of the fastest rising drug cartels in Mexico,
operating in several Mexican states and forging underworld ties around
the globe.

The group has been linked to thousands of murders, according to a
Rolling Stone profile. Many of them have been traced specifically to
their leader, "El Mencho," who is reportedly a former police officer.

Lagunas' death comes during a year that is on track to become the
bloodiest on record in Mexico. In the first 10 months of 2017, 20,878
murders were counted nationwide, an average of 69 murders a day,
Reuters reported.

It's a dangerous time and place for anyone, but especially for a
teenage boy living recklessly in search of fame.

Gumaro Perez, a Mexican journalist, arrived just on time for the
Christmas festival at his 6-year-old son's elementary school on
Tuesday morning.

"He opted to make a career as a broken toy of cyberspace, a path he
carved out drink by drink and that left him with enemies of flesh and
blood," Univision reporter Fernando Mexia wrote in an article titled
"The poisoned fame of 'El Pirata.'"

The YouTube star managed to "transcend borders," even landing in
Rolling Stone - not for his fame, but for his death. His killing "gave
him the popularity he never imagined," Mexia wrote.

As the teenager's celebrity rose, activists criticized the musicians,
bands and promoters who featured him drinking in music videos. The
attention only encouraged his dangerous behavior and promoted the
alcoholism of a minor, critics told Univision.

"There are a lot of people who criticize him, but the truth is . . .
that's why 'El Pirata' got started," said one artist, Luis Adame, of
Ultimo Escuadron. "Everyone in their own way tries to find a way to
get ahead."

In recent interviews, Lagunas seemed to come to terms with his vices.
He hoped to pursue a singing career, and reportedly had signed a
contract with a record label.

Speaking to Pepe Garza, a radio host and producer, in July, Lagunas
said he knew he needed to rein in the drinking.

"You drink a lot all at once, and the body isn't meant for that,"
Garza said to him.

"People ask me, 'How do you do it? How do you handle drinking so
much?" the teenager responded. "I just laugh, I say 'I don't know how
I do it.'"

But, he said, "they're right . . . sometimes I go too far."

The host wished him the best with his career, encouraging him to get a
grip on the partying. . ."so that he can last many years."

After hearing the news of his death, fellow Instagram celebrity and
promoter Beto Sierra remembered Lagunas as a cheerful, positive, fun

Sierra recalled encouraging him to calm down and control the drinking.
"He told me that he wanted to change, but on the weekend, there was no
lack of bad influences," Sierra wrote on Instagram.

"You were living a fast life . . . you never listened, and I don't
judge you," he said. "Those who knew you know you were a good person."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt