Tough prison term for Mexican drug cartel leader

Lester Mason
June 14, 2018

Edgar Valdez Villarreal, known to many as "La Barbie", received a 49-year sentence for crimes committed while serving as a ranking member of a Mexican drug cartel.

Born on the Mexican border in Laredo, Texas, Valdez became a street dealer as a teenager.

He lived a flashy lifestyle, dressing in nice suits and going to clubs, and owning homes in the most expensive parts of Mexico City. That information also revealed that he then moved on to trafficking cocaine in New Orleans and Memphis and connected with the Arturo Beltran-Leyva cartel. A video shows Valdez and others interrogating the man and then shows him being shot in the head, prosecutors said.

Valdez is accused of sending truckloads of cocaine from Mexico to the eastern USA and shipping millions in cash back to Mexico.

In court, Valdez's sister Carla, an assistant district attorney in Texas, asked the judge for leniency.

The Atlanta courtroom was largely packed with Valdez's immediate and extended family, including his seven siblings, parents, nieces and nephews. She acknowledged that her brother strayed from that upbringing but insisted he's a good person.

Duffey said he struggled to understand, asking "why are you a prosecutor and why is your brother a seriously evil criminal?"

Federal Police escort Texas-born fugitive Edgar Valdez Villarreal, alias "La Barbie", center, during his presentation to the press in Mexico City, Tuesday Aug. 31, 2010.

At the time, then-Mexican President Felipe Calderon called Villarreal 'one of the most-wanted criminals in Mexico and overseas'.

Valdez was among 13 people extradited from Mexico to the United States in September 2015.

In January 2016, he pleaded guilty to conspiring to import and distribute cocaine and conspiring to launder money. Valdez received credit for the eight years he had already spent in prison, including the time behind bars in Mexico.

He answered, "Yes, your honor", to a judge's questions before pleading guilty to the three charges, which commanded a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Duffey remained skeptical, saying that by providing information to U.S. authorities, Valdez was effectively "structuring a situation where his competitors were being taken out by law enforcement".

Initially, Valdez was up against a life sentence for his crimes.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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