On July 20, 1923, Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa was assassinated. His real name was José Doroteo Arango Arámbula, and he was killed at the age of 45 in the city of Parral in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The city is located in the northern half of Mexico, nearly 300 kilometers from the U.S. border that lies on the Rio Grande River.
Pancho Villa is one of the most prominent figures of the Mexican Civil War, a period of numerous coups, riots and civil conflicts in Mexico from 1910 to 1920. Born as the son of a poor tenant, Villa was left without parents at an early age and never received a formal education. Still, he learned to read and write and rose from a petty thief to a famous guerrilla leader. He joined the revolutionaries against the dictatorial regimes of Porphyry Diaz and Victorian Huerta. In 1914, he even managed to become the governor of the federal state of Chihuahua, but soon quarreled with them. He fled to northern Mexico with another famous revolutionary, Emilian Zapata, and lived as a bandit.
To prove that the authorities in Mexico do not control the northern part of the country, Villa attacked and killed about thirty American citizens. The Americans sent an army in search of Villa, but neither they nor the Mexican government were able to find him. Authorities finally made a deal with Villa in 1920, giving him a ranch near the aforementioned town of Parral, and in return he had to give up politics.
Pancho Villa lived before the murder on his ranch near the town of Parral, where he used to come to do banking and other business. He usually had a group of bodyguards with him (the so-called Dorados), but on the day of the murder he was accompanied by only a small number of collaborators. While driving through the city streets in a black Dodge car, he was ambushed by armed assassins. Seven people with rifles fired more than 40 shots into his car. The villa was hit by as many as nine dumdum bullets, so he died on the spot. There are several theories about who organized the murder of Pancho Villa. Some believe that the then and future Mexican presidents – Álvaro Obregón and Plutarco Elías Calles – were involved in the story.