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FBI Raids Iconic Indie Label Del Records Headquarters in Bell Gardens

Photo courtesy of Alex Inda/YouTube

[dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap] SWAT team can be seen on a viral YouTube video Friday setting off a minor explosive and breaking down the double doors facing Garfield Avenue in Bell Gardens that lead into Del Records.

The footage caught a COVID-19 era FBI raid that feels reminiscent of 90s era Death Row Records drama and underscores a growing sense of turmoil in what was once seen as the epitome of indie success in the narcocorrido world.

The U.S. record label, which achieved iconic status in the Mexican Regional game with shrewd business sense and marketing skills, has been in a very public battle with its former star, Gerardo Ortiz. The Pasadena native left the label a year ago but tensions, lawsuits, and drama continue to mount with the latest criminal probe allegedly tied to the beef.

To get a sense of how big Del Records has become, the news of the raid made Variety

In a statement on the company social media verticals, Del Records said, "We are able to confirm that the Federal Bureau of Investigation came to the offices of Del Records today and took a number of materials that we understand relate to the FBI’s investigation of our former artist, Gerardo Ortiz. To the best of our knowledge, Del Records is not a subject, but merely a source of information for the FBI’s investigation into Mr. Ortiz. We have cooperated fully with the FBI and will continue to do so."

Ortiz's company, Bad Sin, fired back on its social media alleging the FBI also raided Del Records CEO Angel Del Villar’s home in Huntington Beach.

"Today we learned the offices of Del Records and Del Entertainment Inc. were searched by the FBI, as well as the home of its owner, Jose Angel Del Villar, pursuant to a federally issued search warrant," the statement said.  "To our knowledge the search by the FBI at Del Records office and Mr. Del Villar’s home does not involve Mr. Ortiz."

On his personal Instagram, Del Villar posted a series of cryptic IG stories that served to show he was not detained in the raid and that he seemed to be handling it in stride. He was eating a burrito in one of them.

For his part, Ortiz remains a complex figure in the narco music world. He appears to be both a charismatic musical maven from the San Gabriel Valley and a notorious narco singer with incidents that parallel Chalino Sanchez's and Tupac Shakur's careers.

In 2011, Ortiz's album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Latin Albums two weeks after surviving an ambush in Colima, Mexico that took the life of his cousin and manager Ramiro Caro and driver Abel Valle Rosales. In 2016, Ortiz was arrested by authorities in Guadalajara for an "obscene scene" in his music video "Fuiste mía."

According to a report by Billboard, "The video showed in graphic detail a relationship gone wrong, beginning with soft porn scenes inside the shower and ending with a lover shot dead between the eyes and the straying mistress fondled while bound and gagged, then tossed inside a car trunk."

The song went multiple times platinum.

Erick Galindo writes the Mis Ángeles column for LAist/KPCC. He is a contributing Editor to L.A. TACO and has written essays on food and culture for the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. Follow him on Twitter here.

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