Edgar Valdez Villarreal
Edgar Valdez Villarreal
|Other names||La Barbie; El Comandante; El Güero|
|Criminal status||Extradited to the United States. |
Mexico: $2.1 million USD bounty.
USA: $2 million USD bounty.
Arrested on August 30, 2010.
|Criminal charge||Drug trafficking, money laundering|
|Penalty||Serving 49 years in a US federal prison|
Edgar Valdez Villarreal (born August 11, 1973), also known as La Barbie ("The Barbie"), is a Mexican-American drug lord and a lieutenant of the Beltrán Leyva Cartel, a criminal group based in Sinaloa.
Valdez worked for several years as a cartel lieutenant before rising to a leadership position in an enforcement squad called Los Negros. Following the death of cartel boss Arturo Beltrán Leyva in late 2009, Valdez fought a bloody and protracted gang war for control of the cartel resulting in over 150 deaths. He employed techniques such as videotaped torture and decapitation.
On August 30, 2010, he was arrested by Mexican Federal Police at a rural house near Mexico City. His gang, known as Los Negros, collapsed by 2011. He is serving a 49-year sentence in a US federal prison.
Valdez was born and raised in Laredo, Texas. He was a popular high school football player. His nickname La Barbie came from his American football coach at United High School; because of his white skin, blue eyes and facial features, he was compared to a Ken doll, but he had little hair.
Valdez's first arrest came at the age of 19 in Texas, where he was charged with criminally negligent homicide for running over a middle-school counselor with his truck while speeding down a Laredo street. He was not indicted. He became a marijuana dealer on the streets of Laredo while still in high school. He turned down his father's offer of financing a college education in order to focus on his business, but was soon indicted on charges of distributing marijuana. To avoid capture he fled to Mexico, where he allegedly joined the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel and quickly moved up through the ranks due to his connections in the US.
Valdez came to lead the enforcement gang called Los Negros, who were engaged in a territorial dispute in the Nuevo Laredo region against Los Zetas. Los Negros orchestrated kidnappings and recruited operatives, including corrupt police officers, military personnel and federal agents, according to the attorney general's office. While the group was allegedly controlled directly by Valdez, it used to be overseen by the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel.
According to Mexican media reports, shortly after the death of cartel leader Arturo Beltrán Leyva on December 16, 2009, Valdez began to dispute the cartel's leadership and its territory; almost a decade ago one faction was led by Valdez and Gerardo Alvarez-Vasquez, while the other was led by Arturo's brother Héctor Beltrán Leyva and his lieutenant Sergio Villarreal Barragán.
In August 2010 four decapitated bodies were found hanging from a bridge in Cuernavaca, along with a message warning anyone helping Valdez of a similar fate. Both sides engaged in similarly gruesome tactics intended to warn off the other; over 150 deaths are allegedly linked to the dispute.
Connection with the Cabañas Case
The morning of January 25, 2010, football player Salvador Cabañas was wounded by a gunshot to the head. Through the recording of a CCTV camera José Jorge Balderas Garza, aka. "JJ", was identified as his attacker. According to his own statements, due to their friendship Valdez-Villarreal himself was the person who gave "JJ" shelter to protect him from the police by placing him in one of his safe houses. 
Charges and allegations
Mexican police had been searching for Valdez since his 2002 indictment on two counts of conspiracy with intent to distribute marijuana. In their investigation, police raided homes that he had rented, locating grenades, automatic weapons and police uniforms. In May 2009 Mexican authorities listed him as one of their 24 most wanted drug traffickers, and posted a 30-million-peso ($2.3 million USD) reward for information leading to his capture.
Valdez pleaded not guilty and took out advertising in the local Monterrey newspaper, El Norte, describing himself as: "a legitimate businessman who had been forced to leave Nuevo Laredo and move to the neighboring state of Coahuila because he was being harassed for bribes by local police officers."
In June 2010 Valdez was indicted in a US court on charges of trafficking thousands of kilograms of cocaine from Mexico into the US between 2004-06. Mexican officials claim that Valdez introduced to the US about one ton of cocaine per month. In 2009 the Justice Department posted a $2=million reward for information leading to his capture.
Mexican police said they tracked Valdez across five Mexican states for a year, a pursuit that intensified in the latest months as they raided home after home owned by the drug lord, missing him but arresting several of his allies. On August 30, 2010, Valdez was captured by Mexican Federal Police near Mexico City.
In a video released by the federal police on September 1, 2010, Valdez could be seen telling his interrogators how he smuggled drugs from Panama to the US and transported cash from the US back into Mexico hidden in trailers. He said that he spent $200,000 to make a film based on his life; however, he decided not to release the movie because it might reveal too much information about him. After Valdez' arrest, his father-in-law, Carlos Montemayor González, (a.k.a., El Charro) took control of the cartel, only to be arrested 3 months later on November 24, 2010.
His American lawyer told The New York Times that Valdez denies all charges against him and that the video confession was made under duress. In November 2010 Mexico started his extradition process to the US.
On September 30, 2015, Valdez Villarreal was extradited to the US along with 12 other criminals, including former high-ranking Gulf Cartel leader Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sánchez. In June 2018 he was sentenced to 49 years in a US federal prison.
In 2011 Legendary Pictures acquired the rights to film American Drug Lord, a movie about Valdez based on an article in Rolling Stone magazine. Charlie Hunnam, who is best known for his role as Jax Teller in the TV crime-drama Sons of Anarchy, is scheduled to play the crime figure. In January, 2016 it was revealed that since 2013 American actor Armie Hammer contacted the family of the infamous cartel leader "La Barbie" (Valdez-Villarreal) and secured the rights to film the life story of the drug lord.
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