Soto was the tuba player for many years for Banda El Recodo, the holy mother of all bandas in Sinaloa.
He grew into something of the Michael Jordan of the tuba, in that he was a great player, but also made his persona into something younger tuba players wanted to follow and emulate.
He was, in other words, the first star tuba player – something that Mexican tuba playing didn’t have before him.
Soto spent 20 years with Recodo. He retired due to his illness in 2012 and his place was taken by another great and influential tuba player, Alfredo Herrejon.
During his years with Recodo, though, Soto raised the bell on his tuba so that the audience could see his face, thus plucking tuba players forever from the obscurity and ignominy they endured with the bell covering their face down to their nose.
I want to say he was among the first to engrave his tubas with florid designs – but others please correct me if I’m wrong.
Soto also had a signature tuba mouthpiece – the Jokoki – made by Pablo Garibaldi of Garibaldi Music in Paramount, CA.
I made this video recently when I was in Culiacan, Sinaloa, where I walked the grounds of Jardines del Humaya, the cemetery that is the final resting place of dozens of legendary drug traffickers.
It looks like a mini-Beverly Hills. Some of the tombs have air conditioning, barbecue grills, sound systems, even bulletproof glass. A few are the size of a house or two near where I live.
Immigrant village cemetery, Michoacan
One had a long banner to a fallen, presumably murdered, brother, swearing to him, “There’s no truce.” (No hay tregua.)
I’ve seen much smaller versions of this in immigrant villages. One thing immigrants do with their dollars is build larger burial places. They do away with the iron crosses of their poverty and build themselves sepulchers with a statue of Jesus or the Virgin, maybe an open bible in stone.
But these are modest in comparison to the Jardines del Humaya.
Strange, excessive, lurid. I felt as if dropped into some foreign kingdom. These are the new Pharoahs.
I made this video with the help of my anonymous guide. I hope you like it. Feel free to subscribe to my Youtube channel – True Tales Video.
Esparragoza, 65, was within the very highest eschelon of the Sinaloa Cartel, though he assiduously avoided the spotlight.
His death is notable for that reason, but also because, as so rarely happens in the drug world, he died free and of natural causes.
The Cartel was already rocked a while back by the capture of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
Esparragoza apparently died attempting rise from a bed a couple weeks after an auto accident in which he injured his spinal column. So sources tell Rio Doce.
He was from the now-legendary county (municipio) of Badiraguato in Sinaloa, a place that has spawned many of the top Mexican drug cartel leaders, including Guzman. For a while he was the FBI’s second most wanted man, after Osama bin-Laden.