Mexican police parade feared drug lord 'Barbie'
Published 01/09/2010 | 05:00
A Texas-born fugitive known as "the Barbie" grinned yesterday as police paraded him in handcuffs and described how the most improbably named crime boss in the under world led a life of life of luxury and savagery.
But yesterday it was cut short when he became the third suspected drug lord to fall in Mexico in the past 10 months in a coup for President Felipe Calderon's war on cartels.
'Barbie', or Edgar Valdez Villarreal, is a former Texas high school football player who allegedly jumped into the world of Mexican drug cartels gradually rising through the ranks.
He got his nickname for his green eyes and fair complexion, and is wanted in the US for allegedly smuggling tons of cocaine. In Mexico, he is blamed for a brutal gang war that has included bodies hung from bridges, decapitations and shootouts as he and a rival fought for control of the divided Beltran Leyva cartel.
As he was displayed to reporters yesterday, he still wore the green polo shirt in which he was captured the day before. He shifted his weight and smiled often as police described a high-flying and violent life.
Security forces had been closing in on Valdez (37) for over a year. Their biggest breakthrough was the death of his boss, Arturo Beltran Leyva, in a December shootout with marines, Federal Police Commissioner Facundo Rosas, told reporters.
The arrest of several of Valdez' allies, US intelligence tips and other sources provided evidence that Valdez had left his home of 10 years in the resort of Acapulco -- where he owned at least one bar that was raided in 2009 -- to lead a lower-profile life, Rosas said.
Federal police nearly nabbed Valdez during a raid in an upscale neighborhood of the Mexican capital on August 8. He got away, Rosas said, but police found clues there that led them to a woody weekend getaway outside the city where he was finally caught yesterday by an elite squad of federal police trained abroad.
US authorities had offered a reward of up to $2m(€1.57m) for information leading to his capture, and the Mexican government offered a similar amount.