Posts Tagged ‘Edgar Valdez-Villarreal’

Mexico arrests El Grande VIDEO

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Mexico arrests suspected drug kingpin

The Mexican authorities say they have arrested one of the country’s most wanted drugs traffickers.

Sergio Villarreal – known as “El Grande” – was detained by navy marines in the city of Puebla, east of Mexico City.

He is alleged to be a top lieutenant in the powerful Beltran Leyva cartel.

His arrest comes two weeks after the capture of another drug kingpin, Edgar Valdez, known as “Barbie”, who led a rival faction of the same cartel.

The navy said Mr Villarreal was arrested “without a shot being fired” following an intelligence operation.

Makes you wonder if La Barbie had been talking, doesn’t it?

Most-Wanted Mexico Drugs Suspect Cornered

A raid involving 30 soldiers, five armoured vehicles and a helicopter has led to the capture of a suspected member of a drugs cartel in Mexico.

Sergio Villarreal Barragan: Capture of “El Grande” helps Mexico’s president

The 2nd capture of a high level suspected drug lord in two weeks – this time Sergio Villarreal Barragan, alias “El Grande” – again boosts Mexican President Felipe Calderón.

This is the fourth high-level arrest in less than a year, and comes amid public fatigue over the strategy to root out drug trafficking. Since President Calderon sent thousands of troops and federal police in December 2006 across the country to fight organized crime, more than 28,000 have died in drug-related violence.

“This is a new and resounding blow by the federal government against crime, given the high rank and dangerousness of this person inside one of the country’s most extensive criminal organizations which has been deeply weakened,” national security spokesman Alejandro Poire said Sunday night.
The cartel and the fighting

Authorities blame the Beltran Leyva cartel for responsible for escalating violence in central Mexico, bringing to this once peaceful part of the country the mass graves and torture once largely limited to the US-Mexico border. The cartel has allegedly been weakened by infighting since the founder Arturo Beltran Leyva was killed on Dec. 16 during a military operation. Hector Beltran Leyva, still at large, and Sergio Villarreal Barragan were believed to be fighting a faction led by Edgar Valdez.

Analysts do not expect the cartel’s internecine feuds to wane, as territories remain in dispute. “This is not the case of criminals ascending to be Roman emperors in which they only fight between the principal figures, but brutal gangsters that, with their paranoia, would execute even the pet if they believed it to be a potential internal enemy,” says Erubiel Tirado, a security expert at the Iberoamerican University in Mexico City. ”There is an undetermined number of potential bosses disputing the leadership of each group.”

Villarreal Barragan was one of Mexico´s most wanted criminals. And Mr. Poire said he now faces at least seven investigations involving drug trafficking and organized crime.

Related:
Texans Against the War on Drugs
The resolutions offered by El Paso’s city council to end prohibition are quashed by fear of retaliation by Washington

I’ll talk about this in today’s podcast at 11AM Eastern. You can listen to the podcast live, or listen to the archived podcast at this link or through iTunes.

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Who is La Barbie?

Friday, September 10th, 2010

The New York Times has a report on US born and raised Edgar Valdez-Villareal, known as La Barbie, the U.S. Student who Became a Mexican Drug Kingpin

He is the only American citizen known to have moved so high in the command structure of the Mexican cartels.

Five years ago, Mr. Valdez played a key role in the battle between the Sinaloa Cartel and the Gulf Cartel for control over the lucrative I-35 smuggling route into the United States, the Drug Enforcement Administration says.

He is also believed to be the person most responsible for pushing that conflict into central and southern Mexico, taking over the city of Acapulco.

Last week, Mr. Valdez was captured by dozens of federal police officers after a firefight at a rustic house in the mountains northwest of Mexico City. He had eluded the authorities for years despite having multimillion-dollar bounties on his head, and his capture was considered a major blow to the remnants of the Beltrán-Leyva organized crime group, law enforcement officials said.

For months, Mr. Valdez had been fighting for control of the gang since its leader and his mentor, Arturo Beltrán Leyva, was killed in a gun battle with the Mexican Marines last December in Cuernavaca, just south of the capital.

The internecine struggle had pitted Mr. Valdez against Mr. Beltrán Leyva’s brother, Hector. More than 150 people have died in the struggle, many of them mutilated or beheaded and left with grisly messages for the other side.

In videotaped statements to the Mexican police, Mr. Valdez said that he managed a smuggling route from Panama to Mexico and that he transported cash in tractor-trailers back from the United States.

He also admitted that he had ties to many of Mexico’s most wanted drug lords, including Joaquín Guzmán, who has emerged from the last three years of gangland warfare as the most powerful cartel leader in Mexico.

And a total sociopath.

The NYTimes portrays him as “sucked up” into the drug war:

After graduation, Mr. Valdez turned down an offer from his father to attend college, saying he wanted to make money, his brother said. According to a federal indictment in Laredo, the next year he joined a group of smugglers who were moving hundreds of pounds of Mexican marijuana through Laredo to cities in Massachusetts and Missouri.

His brother said Mr. Valdez fled across the river into Nuevo Laredo in 1998 to avoid arrest, opened a small shop and never lived in the United States again. Detectives in Laredo say he quickly became affiliated with a local gang known as Los Chachos, one of four groups that controlled the city’s drug trade in those days.

Over the next years, the Gulf Cartel and its commandos, the Zetas, moved into Nuevo Laredo and started taking over the drug and extortion rackets from local gangs. Mr. Valdez was sucked up into the conflict.

Instead of simply “sucked up”, Valdez is a ruthless killer

By 2003, Mr. Valdez had been placed in charge of Mr. Beltrán Leyva’s squads of hitmen, known as Los Negros, law enforcement officials say. And a year later, he took over the gang’s operations in Acapulco, eventually pushing the Zetas of the Gulf Cartel out of the city with a bloody campaign that included beheadings and grenade attacks on police stations, Mexican officials said.

The war rages on.

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La Barbie caught, now what?

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010


Will Mexico’s prize catch La Barbie’ stand trial in U.S.?

While speculation surged that Mexico would deport Edgar Valdez-Villarreal, a 37-year-old former football star from Laredo, Texas, to stand trial in the United States, where he’s still a citizen, there was no immediate sign of action by Mexico or the U.S.

National security spokesman Alejandro Poire described Valdez-Villarreal as “highly dangerous,” a reference to his drug cartel’s practice of beheading its enemies.

The accused drug lord “has one foot in the airplane bound for the United States,” the usually well-informed El Universal newspaper reported.

Security officials paraded the handcuffed Valdez-Villarreal before the media early Tuesday in an airplane hangar. Hooded security agents stood at his side, and a black helicopter provided the backdrop. Valdez-Villarreal smirked, and even chuckled, at the assembled journalists.

Federal Police Commissioner Facundo Rosas said the capture of Valdez-Villarreal, who’s known by the unlikely nickname of “La Barbie,” came after a yearlong hunt that involved as many as 1,200 law enforcement officers.

By Monday afternoon, a ring of security officers encircled the rustic mountain house in Salazar, about 20 miles west of Mexico City, where Valdez-Villarreal had holed up, Rosas said. Mobile phone service in the area was spotty, and the target and six underlings couldn’t summon backup to fight their way free, he said. They were detained around 6:30 p.m. without any gunfire.

“Intelligence information indicates that ‘La Barbie’ trafficked 1 ton of cocaine each month,” Federal Police counternarcotics chief Ramon Pequeno said at the news conference.

Valdez-Villarreal’s capture gives a boost to President Felipe Calderon, who declared war on drug cartels after taking office in late 2006. The death toll, which recently soared past 28,000 people, has soured many Mexicans on Calderon’s tough drug enforcement policies. Valdez-Villarreal is the third top drug lord to be arrested or killed in nine months.

Government officials seemed to be seeking to regain support by offering abundant details about Valdez-Villarreal’s background and capture.

Poire declared that Valdez-Villarreal maintained ties to drug gangs operating in the U.S. and Central and South America, and a series of arrests during the day in Colombia appeared to bear out that claim.

Born in Laredo, Valdez-Villarreal moved to Mexico City, where in 1998 he met Arturo Beltran-Leyva, a drug lord working for the surging Sinaloa Cartel, Pequeno said. As the Texan worked his way up the criminal chain, first in Nuevo Laredo along the border, then starting in 2004 in the Pacific Coast resort of Acapulco, he nurtured a reputation for extreme violence, including frequent beheadings of the Beltran-Leyva group’s enemies.

The grisly reputation contrasted with his unlikely nickname, given because of his blue eyes and fair complexion – reminiscent of Ken, the Barbie doll’s companion.

By 2007, Valdez-Villarreal ranked senior enough to take part in a meeting in the weekend getaway of Cuernavaca in which bosses of the Sinaloa, Juarez and Gulf cartels – along with the Gulf Cartel’s armed wing, Los Zetas – gathered to hash out an end to conflict between the rival groups, Pequeno said.

Valdez-Villarreal had many enemies, but one of his bitterest feuds dated to his stint in Nuevo Laredo, where he battled the Gulf Cartel and its henchmen, Los Zetas, for smuggling routes, Pequeno said. His hatred of the No. 2 Zetas leader, Miguel Trevino Morales, alias “El L-40,” was so severe it nearly caused a falling out with his own boss, Pequeno said.

Eventually, Beltran-Leyva and his underlings broke from the Sinaloa Cartel, and when the drug lord died in a shootout in December with Mexican marines, his gang was ripped apart by violence, with “La Barbie” seizing control of a faction and becoming a major trafficker in his own right.

Valdez-Villarreal entrenched himself in Guerrero state, surrounding Acapulco, but also had operations in the states of Morelos, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Quintana Roo and in Mexico City, police said.

Narcotics agents hunting “La Barbie” got a lucky break in a raid on Aug. 9 in the elegant Bosques de las Lomas district of Mexico City, which turned up evidence leading them to the accused drug lord’s mountain safe house in Salazar, Rosas said.

The State Department had offered a $2 million bounty for Valdez-Villarreal and Mexican authorities held out a similar reward of around $2.2 million.

Valdez-Villarreal faces numerous federal narcotics charges in Texas, Louisiana and Georgia, the earliest dating back to 1998 and the most recent announced in June in Atlanta.

The Economist:

The capture of Mr Valdez, like that of Teodoro El Teo García, an ally of Mr Guzmán, and the killings of Arturo Beltrán Leyva and Ignacio Coronel, Sinaloa’s third-in-command, show that Mr Calderón has successfully transformed his security apparatus. The government has vastly increased its intelligence capacity, and improved its cooperation with United States authorities. And its agents have now proven they can conduct sensitive operations without advance warning leaking to their targets (although Mr Valdez did reportedly escape capture by a few hours earlier this month). Mr Valdez was the first top-tier drug lord to be captured by the federal police, which Mr Calderón has made into a credible security force, as opposed to the army or navy. The government announced on August 30th that it has dismissed 3,200 federal police officers this year for suspected corruption, almost 10% of the total.

I’ll talk about this news in today’s podcast at 11AM Eastern.

Related:
As drug violence escalates, entire length of US-Mexico border to be patrolled by unmanned drones, h/t Instapundit.

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