U.S.-Born Drug Kingpin, Who Smuggled Tons of Cocaine, Captured At Last


A notorious drug kingpin who is alleged to have trafficked tons of cocaine from Mexico to America is in custody, along with six others, say Mexican authorities.

It’s the capture of Edgar Valdez Villarreal, an American-born man known in Mexico as “La Barbie” because of his light complexion and blue eyes, however, that is making headlines. Valdez faces charges in both Mexico and the United States for smuggling thousands of pounds of cocaine across the border, from 2004 to 2006. In 2005 alone, he is said to have aided in the transport of 100 kilograms of cocaine per week to the Laredo, Texas area. According to prosecutors, most of the drugs that were trafficked by La Barbie are bound for Atlanta, an infamous distribution hub for the drug cartels.

Valdez, 37, is said to be one of the top five drug traffickers in Mexico. He began his smuggling career as part of the notorious Sinoloa Cartel, and was considered the top henchman of the most wanted kingpin in the country, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. He later defected to a breakaway group, but became embroiled in a power struggle when Arturo Beltran-Leyva, that group’s leader, was killed by the Mexican military during a 2009 shootout. Both Valdez and Hector Beltran-Leyva, the slain leader’s brother, were among the pretenders to the throne of the Beltran-Levya Cartel and jockeying for its premiere position.

The former high-school football standout from Texas is also known for his ruthless approach to enemies, ordering the killing and decapitation of drug gang members who either infringe on his turf, betray him, or are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Neither did he shrink from committing the slayings himself.

The United States had offered up a $2 million reward for the capture of Valdez; Mexican intelligence is credited with having learned his whereabouts through operations in six Mexican states. Valdez was captured just outside Mexico City, along with six associates ranging in age from 18 to 40. Also recovered in the sting were automatic weapons, three vehicles and nine packets of cocaine.

Valdez is not yet charged in Mexico, although an indictment against him was unsealed in Atlanta earlier this summer. For this reason, the narcotics trafficker is expected to be extradited to the United States to face charges.

Since 2006, when Mexican President Felipe Calderon stepped up the battle against drug cartels and organized crime, over 28,000 people have been killed in violence related to the drug trade. The capture of La Barbie is expected to boost flagging support for Calderon.


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