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Notorious Mexican Cartel Leader, Suspected of Torturing and Decapitating Dozens, Disappears From US Prison

Ashley Jarrett

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A notorious Mexican-American drug lord and hitman has gone missing from a federal prison in Florida where he was serving a 49-year sentence.

Edgar Valdez-Villareal, known as ‘La Barbie,’ is a former cartel leader who is infamous for recording brutal torture sessions and decapitating his enemies. Although he is not due to be released from prison until July 27, 2056, Valdez-Villareal has mysteriously disappeared from the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) website and is listed as “not in BOP custody.”

Raised in Laredo, Texas, Valdez-Villareal was given the nickname “La Barbie” by a high school football coach because of his light complexion and blue eyes.

He moved to Mexico in the 1990s after he was charged in the US with dealing marijuana, soon becoming a major figure in the world of drug trafficking.

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Edgar Valdez-Villareal, aka ‘The Barbie’

Valdez-Villareal was head of the Los Negros, which was an armed enforcement group of the Beltran Levya cartel, one of Mexico’s most dangerous groups. He also served as a top lieutenant for the Sinaloa Cartel, which was run by the infamous Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman-Loera before he was incarcerated.

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After years of moving cocaine into the US and carrying out many acts of violence, Valdez-Villareal was captured during a firefight with Mexican authorities near Mexico City in 2010. He was indicted in the US in 2010 and extradited to the US five years after, where he was convicted of drug trafficking and money laundering.

In 2016 he pled guilty to conspiracy to import cocaine, conspiracy to distribute cocaine, and conspiracy to launder money. In June 2018, he was sentenced to 49 years and one month in prison and fined $192,000.

At the time of his sentencing, the Justice Department said that he was “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.”

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Now, the BOP website says it released Valdez-Villareal on November 27. The bureau will often label inmates as “released” after they have been transferred to another group.

When pressed for details about the criminal’s status update, a spokesperson for the BOP said, “We do not provide specific information on the status of inmates who are not in the custody of the BOP for safety, security, or privacy reasons.”

Bureau spokesperson Benjamin O’Cone explained this further, saying, “Inmates who were previously in BOP custody and who have not completed their sentence may be outside BOP custody for a period of time for court hearings, medical treatment, or for other reasons.”

As the bureau remains tight-lipped on the matter, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is publicly voicing his desire for answers.

“It’s very strange what is going on in the United States with Mr. Villareal, who is no longer among those in custody and we want to know where he is,” said President Obrador. “There is no reason for him to leave prison because he was condemned to many years, unless there was some kind of an agreement.”

There is some speculation that La Barbie could have struck a deal with the federal authorities.

A security consultant and former deputy chief of the Texas Police Department in El Paso, Robert Almonte, elaborated on what an ‘agreement’ between the drug lord and the US authorities may look like.

“He could be providing information on high-ranking cartel members, but even if this were the case I can’t see him being released from custody,” said Almonte. “He’s very dangerous. He’s killed people and he’s extremely violent and still has these connections to the cartel.”


Formerly an online tech and science reporter at The Sun Online, Ashley stepped up to the mantle of technology reporter at the Daily Telegraph late last year. She writes about everything from drones, web security and cryptocurrency to social media apps, like Facebook and Spotify, and technology brands including Apple and Toshiba.

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