Los Tigres del Norte (English: The Tigers of the North) is a norteño-band ensemble based out of San Jose, California with origins in Rosa Morada, a sindicatura in Mocorito, Sinaloa, Mexico.
The group was started by Jorge Hernández, his brothers, and his cousins. They then began recording after moving to San Jose, California in the late 1960s, when all the members were still in their teens. They were sponsored by a local record company, Discos Fama, owned by an Englishman named Art Walker, who took them under his wing and helped them find jobs and material, as well as recording all of their early albums.
The Tigres were at first only locally popular, but took off after Jorge and Art Walker heard a Los Angeles mariachi singer perform a song in the early 1971 about a couple of drug runners, Emilio Varela and Camelia la Texana. There had been occasional ballads (corridos, in Mexican terminology) about the cross-border drug trade ever since Prohibition in the 1920s, but never a song as cinematic as this, featuring a woman smuggler who shoots the man and takes off with the money. After getting permission to record this song, Los Tigres del Norte released “Contrabando y traición” (“Contraband and Betrayal”) in 1974. The song quickly hit on both sides of the border, inspired a series of movies, and kicked off one of the most remarkable careers in Spanish-language music.