Jimmy Bauer on ‘Locked Up Abroad’: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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Jimmy Bauer is a Latin pop singer hailing from New York. He was arrested for trying to smuggle heroin into the United States in 2010, and CBS reported that he was subsequently hospitalized after some of the pellets he swallowed burst in his stomach.

Bauer is the focus of a new Locked Up Abroad episode titled “Pop Star Smuggler.” The episode will detail his rise to fame in the bachata scene, as well as the circumstances that led to his arrest.

Here’s what you need to know about Jimmy Bauer:


1. Bauer Was Born Jaime Vargas & Began Singing As a Teenager

Jimmy Bauer was born Jaime Vargas in New York City. He discussed his childhood, and his musical interests, during a 2010 interview with Bachateros. “I started since I was a teenager; I’ve been in the music industry more than 20 years,” he said. “I’ve been singing bachata for almost 5 years now. The experience has been wonderful so far, and I feel bless to be part of it.”

Bauer categorized himself as a merengue singer for the first half of his career, but he decided to transition to bachata in the early 2000s. According to Merriam-Webster, bachata is “a genre of popular song and dance of the Dominican Republic performed with guitars and percussion.” Bauer said that his producer came to him with a fresh take on the genre, and felt that it would lead to commercial success.

“It’s an interesting story, I was a merenguero all my life, as I used to love merengue back in the day,” he recalled. “Bachata came to my life thanks to my producer, as he introduced me to Bachata and his new concept (meaning the different sounds, harmonies and concepts that we could create with Bachata music). We started working in 2003 and our first production was out in 2004.”


2. Bauer Has Released 2 Studio Albums & Appeared on Various Bachata Compilations

Bauer released his self-titled debut on November 9, 2004. According to Amazon, the album mixed a number of different musical styles, including “pop rock” remixes of certain tracks and an R&B take on the song “Pensando En Ti.” Bauer released a second album titled Felix Almanzar in 2016 and a single called “Te Regalo” in 2018. Outside of these releases, he has appeared on various bachata and merengue compilations.

Bauer told Bachateros that he wanted to provide an alternative to the bachata that was being performed by acts like Aventura and Frank Reyes. “The Bachata music that is played today started with that movement, with people like Aventura, my producer and I wanting to make Bachata music evolve, exploring it a lot more and giving it a unique touch, which enabled people to identify it from the others,” he reasoned.

“This is what we call Bachata-fusion, or more commonly known as Bachata-Pop. We pushed the limits of the Bachata genre and now, many singers are following our influence,” Bauer added. “I wouldn’t say I was the one that started it, but I can say I was part of that movement. Jimmy Bauer’s music can be easily identified from other Bachata singers from today.”


3. Bauer Was Caught Trying to Smuggle Heroin At a Dominican Airport In 2010

Bauer’s life was irrevocably changed when he was detained at a Dominican Republic airport in 2010. Ramon Alcides Rodriguez, a spokesman for the D.R. drug control agency, told CBS that Bauer was pulled aside after exhibiting “strange behavior,” and a subsequent X-ray examination revealed that the singer had dozens of pellets hidden in his stomach.

Dominican authorities rushed Bauer to a nearby military hospital, where 88 pellets were extracted from his stomach. CBS confirmed that two of the pellets had burst inside Bauer’s stomach prior to extraction, causing him to become ill. He was hospitalized for several days, during which time he was guarded by a trio of officers from the drug agency.

Dominican authorities suspected the pellets contained cocaine, but Rodriguez told the outlet that the laboratory tests showed it was 1.04 kilograms, or 2.2 pounds of pure heroin.


4. Bauer Was Sentenced to 6 Years In Najayo Prison But Was Released After Only 3 Years

El cantante Jimmy Bauer salió en libertad tras tres años de prisión – Primer ImpactoMás noticias: http://bit.ly/10W33sR El cantante siente que volvió a nacer tras ser atrapado con droga en el estómago, pues esto le salvó la vida. SUSCRIBETE!: http://bit.ly/10Tv8QF Primer Impacto: Encuentra las noticias y reportajes más impactantes que ocurren en Estados Unidos y el mundo, presentadas por Bárbara Bermudo y Pamela Silva-Conde. Síguenos en Twitter: http://bit.ly/ZhUzJU Síguenos…2014-02-06T00:08:28.000Z

Hispanic News Network reported that Bauer was sentenced to six years in Najayo prison, and was fined 50,000 pesos, or $1,282.16 for his heroin mule smuggling conviction. According to Univision Noticias, however, the singer only served three years of his sentence before he was released.

Najayo prison was famous for its mistreatment of common inmates, and its favoritism towards drug lords and white-collar criminals who paid off guards. “There were people sleeping on the floor all over the place, men sleeping standing up like animals,” said inmate Herman de Leon Polanco. “It was hell.” According to Reuters, the prison has undergone drastic changes in the past decade, and is dedicated to shedding its once toxic reputation.

“Their human rights need to be respected. Inmates deserve a healthy meal … an education, and access to healthcare,” said system director Ysmael Paniagua. “We don’t hire any guards who have had any previous experience with the military or police. We train people ourselves. We don’t want any connection to the traditional model because it is corrupt and corrupting.”


5. Bauer Cited Financial Troubles as the Reason He Agreed to Smuggle Heroin

Bauer shed light on his decision to smuggle heroin in the 2014 book Heroin and Music In New York City. The singer told author Barry Spunt that he was broke at the time, and he needed quick cash to finance a music video for one of his upcoming singles.

Bauer’s manager, Irving Lozada, told CBS that he was shocked by the arrest, as he had never known Bauer to be a user or a trafficker. “[I was] completely astonished,” he claimed. “I never saw Jimmy use drugs.” The manager added that he knew very little of Bauer’s private life.

Despite having to serve a prison term, Hispanic News Network stated that Bauer’s fate could have been much worse. Had he been able to fool Dominican authorities and board his flight to the United States as planned, he would not have been able to get medical attention for the heroin pellets that burst in his stomach, and he would have likely not survived.

Bauer’s latest single, “Quedate Todo el Dia,” was released in 2019.

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