Monkey wearing camo and bullet-proof vest killed in Mexican drug cartel shootout
A monkey dressed in a tiny ‘bullet-proof’ vest became the victim of a drug gangland shootout in Mexico last week.
The animal, also wearing a specially-made camouflage jacket and a diaper, was pictured sprawled across the body of a dead gunman, suspected to have been his owner.
Mexican authorities say 11 gang members died in the shootout with police last Tuesday.
It is unclear why the apparent owner of the spider monkey had a plastic bucket on his head.
Tributes for the animal – dubbed ‘El Changusto’ and aged one according to social media posts – have been pouring in.
Various memes also bare a resemblance to reaction to the death of Harambe, a gorilla killed in a zoo after grabbing a young boy who got into his enclosure in 2016.
The monkey quickly got his own ‘corrida’ – the traditional Mexican folk ballad often composed in honour of drug lords.
‘Life is very short, it wasn’t the monkey’s turn (to die),’ the ballad said.
Meanwhile, a 450-pound (200 kilogram) tiger was seen wandering the streets of the Pacific coast state of Nayarit, and another man died after trying to pet a different tiger in a cartel-dominated area of western Michoacan state.
The remarkable scenes, reminiscent of narcos dramas, highlight exotic animals’ place in the Mexican criminal underworld.
Authorities in the State of Mexico confirmed the authenticity of the monkey photo but said it was unclear whether the animal died in the hail of bullets that killed his apparent owner.
Prosecutors explained in a statement: ‘A primate was killed at the scene, which was presumably owned by a criminal who was also killed at the scene.
‘An autopsy will be carried out on the animal by a veterinarian specialised in the species’.
Authorities said the tiger’s claws and fangs had been removed, and later in the footage a man can be seen tossing a rope over the tiger’s neck and leading it away.
There was an more unfortunate ending in the western state of Michoacan, which has long been dominated by the Carteles Unidos gang and the Jalisco cartel.
On Sunday, authorities confirmed that a man was seriously wounded by a tiger in Periban, a town in the state’s avocado-growing region, where gangs have long extorted protection payments from the lucrative avocado trade.
In an unverified video posted on social media the man is seen calling a tiger to the side of a fenced enclosure.
Standing outside the enclosure, he appears to feed the animal with one hand and put his other arm through the fence to stroke the big cat.
But then he screams as the tiger turns and bites his arm and refuses to let go. Eventually the tiger mauled both the man’s arms.
Michoacan state authorities confirmed that the man was taken to a hospital, where he died a few days later from his injuries.
Mexicans are allowed to keep exotic animals if they obtain strict permits – but security analyst David Saucedo claimed criminals often go to great lengths to get them.
He explained that the pets are often used as a symbol of status and power – imitating Colombian drug lords of the 1980s and 90s.
‘Mexican drug traffickers copied from the narcos of the Medellin cartel the custom of acquiring exotic animals and setting up private zoos,’ Mr Saucedo said.
But in some cases, the animals have a more sinister role to play.
Mr Saucedo continued: ‘Some drug cartel capos [lords], like Zetas leader Heriberto Lazcano, acquired exotic animals to torture or disappear their victims.
‘Several of his enemies were devoured by the tigers or the crocodiles that the Zetas kept in their pens or cages.’
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