A Laredo-born fugitive known as “the Barbie” who allegedly led a violent smuggling network grinned as he was paraded in handcuffs before reporters Tuesday in Mexico.
Edgar Valdez Villarreal, who got his nickname from his fair complexion, is wanted in the U.S. for allegedly smuggling tons of cocaine. In Mexico, he’s blamed for a turf war that’s included bodies hung from bridges, decapitations and shootouts as he and a rival fought for control of the divided Beltran Leyva cartel.
Valdez, as he was displayed to reporters, still wore the green polo shirt in which he was captured the day before. He grinned often as police described a high-flying and violent life.
Security forces had been closing in on Valdez for over a year, the biggest breakthrough being the death of his boss, Arturo Beltran Leyva, in a December shootout with marines.
Valdez in May was charged, in federal court in Atlanta, with distributing thousands of pounds of cocaine from Mexico to the eastern U.S. from 2004 to 2006.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)