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Relatives filed a missing persons report on Friday after losing cellular phone contact with the musicians. When they went to the ranch to investigate, they found the band members’ vehicles still parked outside.

Kombo Kolombia has played a Colombian style of music known as vallenato, which is popular in working class neighborhood in the city of Monterrey and other parts of Nuevo Leon state. Most of the group’s musicians were from the area, except for the keyboard player who is Colombian and had Mexican residency, Domene said.

The band regularly played at bars in downtown Monterrey on the weekend. At least two of the bars where they had played had been attacked by gunmen.

It was Mexico’s largest single kidnapping since 20 tourists from the western state of Michoacan were abducted in Acapulco in 2010. Most of their bodies were found a month later in a mass grave. Authorities said the tourists were mistaken for cartel members.

Members of other musical groups have been murdered in Mexico in recent years, usually groups that perform “narcocorridos” that celebrate the exploits of drug traffickers. But Kombo Kolombia did not play that type of music, and its lyrics were about love and heartbreak and did not deal with violence or drug trafficking.

But singers of drug exploits are not the only musicians targeted, said Elijah Wald, author of the book, “Narcocorrido: A Journey into the Music of Drugs, Guns and Guerrillas.”

“There is really not correlation. Drug guys hire people to play for their parties and they hire whatever is happening,” he said. “Sergio Gomez, the single-most famous singer killed from K-Paz de la Sierra, his big hit was a version of `Jambalaya.’”

Gomez was kidnapped and found strangled and tortured in 2007 in the western state of Michoacan, a day after Zayda Pena of the group Zayda and the Guilty Ones was shot in a hospital while recovering from a separate bullet wound in the border town of Matamoros, across from Brownsville, Texas.

Valentin Elizalde, “El Gallo de Oro,” was shot to death along with his manager and driver in 2006 following a performance in Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas. Norteno singer Sergio Vega was shot dead in a northern state of Sinaloa in 2010.

“A lot of people are being killed because they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time and musicians are some of the people on that list,” Wald said.