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Edgar Valdez Villarreal (a.k.a. “La Barbie”) one of Mexico’s and USA’s most wanted men, an alleged ruthless hitman and drug kingpin, was captured last Monday nearby Mexico City in a luxurious country estate.
Valdez Villarreal, 37, was captured by federal police in what has been reported as a tactical operation, supposedly without a shot fired.
“La Barbie” was born in the USA and began his criminal career in that nation. After being arrested and convicted for possession of illegal substances, Valdez Villarreal moved to Mexico where he quickly ascended in the criminal ranks, hiring gunmen and assassins to provide security to drug lords and to fight against law-enforcement agents.
Mexican officials said Valdez Villarreal had been battling for control of the Beltran Leyva cartel since its leader, Arturo Beltran Leyva, was killed last December in a shoot-out with marines in Cuernavaca, a popular weekend resort south of the capital.
His battle with Hector Beltran Leyva, a brother of Arturo, has made a battleground of what was once a relatively peaceful pocket of the country and brought the drug war closer to Mexico City.
He was wanted in connection with the assassination attempt on the South American footballer Salvador Cabañas (link in Spanish).
The battle for control of the cartel led to a series of gun battles also in the holiday resort of Acapulco. Last week 14 bodies were found there bearing messages to rival cartels.
The capture of this outstanding criminal is considered as a big success for President Felipe Calderón who has openly declared war organized crime since the beginning of his administration.
In the footage released to media by Mexican authorities (which is not official and can’t be used in Court as a confession or affidavit) “La Barbie” acknowledged he currently has “investments” in Colombia related to the illegal drugs business. He also admitted he has met (and has bargained) with several notorious drug lords and criminals, such as Joaquín Guzmán Loera (a.ka. “El Chapo”), José Gerardo Álvarez Vázquez (a.k.a. “El Indio” or “El Chayán”), Osiel Cárdenas Guillén and many others.
The capture of Valdez Villarreal mysteriously took place a couple of days before President Calderón delivers his annual report to the Mexican Congress.
Despite the major arrests, Mexico’s drug gang violence grows bloodier by the minute, and has claimed so far more than 28,000 lives since Calderón launched his crackdown in 2006.
August 31st, 2010.