The Texas-born drug boss known as “La Barbie” was sentenced to 49 years and one month in prison and ordered to turn over $192 million. The drug lord is believed to have started a fierce drug war with Los Zetas Cartel in the Laredo-Nuevo Laredo metropolitan border area.
The sentencing memorandum from a U.S. District Court in Georgia revealed 44-year-old Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez Villarreal came from humble roots in Laredo, Texas, but became a top-level enforcer and drug lord for the Sinaloa and Beltran Leyva Cartels. Valdez was arrested in August 2010 in Mexico and later extradited to the U.S. where federal prosecutors wanted him on multiple offenses. He was extradited in 2015 and after pleading guilty to various drug trafficking and money laundering charges, U.S. District Judge William S. Duffey, Jr in Georgia handed down the sentence. Initially, prosecutors asked for 660 months in prison or 55 years, but the judge handed down 589 months instead.
“Valdez-Villareal imported tons of cocaine into the U.S. while ruthlessly working his way up the ranks of one of Mexico’s most powerful cartels, leaving in his wake countless lives destroyed by drugs and violence,” said U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Byung J. Pak in a prepared statement. “He will now go to federal prison for nearly the rest of his life. The highest levels of Mexican drug cartel should know that, like La Barbie, they will be held accountable for their crimes.”
Starting his criminal career in Laredo, Texas, at age 18, Villarreal quickly rose in the drug trafficking world where by 27, he was heading his own trafficking group moving more than 400 pounds of cocaine per month into Louisiana and Tennessee.
By 2002, the Gulf Cartel and their then-enforcement wing Los Zetas, took over Nuevo Laredo and ran La Barbie out and burned his homes, killing some of his employees and butchering some animals in his personal zoo. From Nuevo Laredo, Valdez moved to Monterrey, Nuevo León, where he met with Arturo Beltran Leyva and eventually joined the Sinaloa Cartel.
By 2003, with the backing of the Sinaloa Cartel and their allies, Valdez and more than 300 hitmen pushed to take over the border city of Nuevo Laredo from Los Zetas. Despite months of raging violence, Los Zetas were able to remain entrenched. Valdez, the Beltran Leyva, and the Sinaloa Cartel continued to expand their operations in Mexico.
According to court records, La Barbie set up a route from the beach resort town of Acapulco, to Laredo and then to Dallas, Memphis, and San Diego.
Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and Stephen K. Bannon. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook. He can be contacted at Iortiz@breitbart.com.
Brandon Darby is managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and Stephen K. Bannon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at email@example.com.