If anybody was laboring under the delusion that having a million-plus following on Instagram somehow conferred invulnerability, then the murder in Zapopan last week of Juan Luis Lagunas Rosales, known online as the “Pirate of Culiacán,” will be a sobering wakeup call.
Laguna Rosales, 17, was shot 18 times by two as-of-yet unidentified assailants at 11:30 p.m. inside Menta2, a live music venue and bar in the southern Zapopan neighborhood of Los Cajetes. Several injuries were also reported, in addition to the death of the bar’s owner.
The “Pirate of Culiacán” became an online sensation vis-a-vis drunken antics which he regularly posted on his wildly popular Instagram account. What set him apart and earned him such a widespread fanbase is unclear to the Reporter, but such was his notoriety that he was regularly invited to the events – his appearances filmed and posted online – of music groups who wished to boost their own following by-proxy. One video, in which he can be seen drinking from a bottle of Johnny Walker Red in broad daylight while being chased by a white tiger cub through an unidentified suburb, received almost three millions hits on Youtube.
While it isn’t known for sure why he was killed, authorities believe his murder is most likely in retaliation for a video he posted on November 9 in which he is clearly heard insulting the leader of the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación, now one of Mexico’s most powerful drug trafficking organizations. Laguna Rosales was from Sinaloa, home to the eponymous cartel that is currently engaged in a casualty-heavy game of tug-of-war with Nueva Generación.
While it’s easy to dismiss the young online sensation as a perpetually besotted buffoon sorely lacking in self-awareness, and often the target of ridicule from his “friends,” a rough biographical sketch adds a touch of sad pathos to this brief, absurd saga of the internet age: He never knew his father, and his mother abandoned him to the care of his grandmother when he was a child. He left home at 15 with little education under his belt, working odd jobs in Sinaloa’s capital until, it is reported, he was able to somehow monetize his wild viral fame.
Thursday, a woman claiming to be the boy’s aunt requested authorities turn Laguna Rosales’ body over to her, a petition they denied after the woman was unable to produce proper identification.
At press time, the Pirate of Culiacán remains un-claimed and on ice in Guadalajara’s morgue.