Aug. 31, 2010: Texas-born Edgar Valdez Villarreal, also known as “La Barbie,” center, reacts during his presentation to the media after his arrest in Mexico City.
A judge in Atlanta on Monday sentenced a former Texas high school football player who rose in a bloody power struggle for the control of a Mexican drug cartel to serve almost 50 years in federal prison.
Edgar Valdez Villarreal, also known as “La Barbie” for his light skin and eyes, also was ordered to forfeit $192 million.
Valdez, 44, was accused of bringing trucks full of cocaine from Mexico to the east of the United States and the shipping industry millions of dollars in cash back to Mexico.
He was arrested in Mexico in 2010 and was among the 13 people extradited to the US. of Mexico in September 2015 to face the charges. He pleaded guilty in January 2016 for the costs of a conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine, and conspiracy to launder money.
Valdez was born in Laredo, Texas, on the Mexican border. His father was a nightclub and bar owner, and they lived in a middle-class subdivision, populated by the agents of the border patrol, police officers and firefighters.
He was a street dealer as a teen when he was a linebacker on the football team Laredo United high School, and then climbed the ranks to become a high ranking member of the Beltran Leyva gang during the era when the gang leaders were associated with Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and the Sinaloa Cartel, prosecutors have said.
He lived a flashy lifestyle, dressing in nice suits and going to clubs, and the possession of houses in the most expensive parts of Mexico City. But his luxurious life was threatened after Mexican marines killed its leader, Arturo Beltran Leyva, during a shootout in Cuernavaca in December 2009.
Valdez and Beltran Leyva’s brother, Hector, began a bloody battle for the control of dismembered and decapitated bodies in the streets and often hung from bridges in Cuernavaca and Acapulco, along with threatening messages.
An AMERICAN elite-trained Mexican federal police squad, acting on tips arrested Valdez and four others in a wooded vacation home outside of Mexico City in August 2010. At the time, the then Mexican President Felipe Calderon called Valdez “one of the most wanted criminals in Mexico and abroad.”
An alleged Valdez associate, Carlos Montemayor Gonzalez, was extradited along with him and is also confronted with costs. He pleaded not guilty, and his case is pending.