El Segundo, California
The general consensus, conspiracy theorists notwithstanding, is the U.S. wasn’t involved in any plot to get Villa. Although he was out of the political loop by 1923, Villa still had many enemies in Mexico.
There was an abundance of Ameri-can weapons in Mexico as the U.S. had been a major supplier of guns and ammo since the early days of the 1910 Revolution, and these could have been obtained from any gun dealer.
Villa died in a hail of gunfire on July 20, 1923, driving an open-top Dodge touring car with two bodyguards in the back and a woman and another man in the front. According to legend, he passed by a pumpkin seed vendor standing beside the road who raised his hand and shouted, “Viva Villa.” At that moment, gunfire commenced. There were seven gunmen waiting for him and when the smoke cleared, Villa lay slumped over his steering wheel. All were killed in the ambush except a bodyguard. Assassin Jesus Salas Barragas served six months in jail for the crime. He proudly proclaimed it wasn’t murder, that he’d “rid the world of a monster.”
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His books include The Arizona Trilogy and Law of the Gun.
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