After a member of a drug cartel was shot by a gunman disguised in a colorful wig and rubber nose, professionals attending a clown convention in Mexico City are exclaiming that no one in their line of work would have committed the crime.

Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix, the eldest brother of the Arellano Felix cartel, was killed by the costumed hitman Friday at a beach resort in Los Cabos, Mexico. But according to jesters who depend on their colorful clothes for a living, shooting someone is simply not in the nature of the business since professional clowns are “nonviolent.”

And although the usurpation and slaying are no laughing matters (the infamous drug lord was part of a clan responsible for killing and torturing thousands of people) the Latin American clown community is dealing with the tragedy the way it knows best—by chuckling away the pain. The Guardian reports:

Clown leader Tomas Morales, a 21-year veteran of the trade who goes by the stage name Payaso Llantom, said he was certain the killer was not a professional clown. He said clowns in Mexico, especially in outlying states, know each other, and their costumes and makeup are individualised and recognisable.

“The people who do that, they’re not clowns. I can swear on my mother’s grave it wasn’t a clown,” said Morales, whose costume includes frizzy blue hair and a tiny top hat…

Bufon Marley, the stage name of 49-year-old Alberto Villanueva who dresses like a medieval jester, said of the killer: “It’s sad that it has fallen to that level.”

“I don’t think it will hurt our profession, because in our communities, people know us.”

Morales said, however, that there was a precedent of thieves stealing clown costumes to commit crimes.

“We clowns suffer robberies,” Morales said. “The criminals have stolen our vehicles, our costumes, our sound equipment, our makeup, and with these same tools we use to work, they use them to commit robberies.”

An estimated 500 clowns from around Latin America gathered on Wednesday at the International Clown Meeting in Mexico City and held a 15-minute laugh-a-thon to demonstrate their opposition to the violence that prevails in the country.

As hard as it might sound to be a clown in a country so riven by crime and violence, the laughing came naturally, Villanueva said.

“We laugh at the very things that hurt us,” he said. “It is a very special, very Mexican humour.”

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi

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