Edgar Valdez Villarreal to be held pending investigation

Edgar Valdez Villarreal, a suspected drug lord, will remain in a Mexican prison while officials investigate his alleged links to organized crime. (Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images)

Edgar Valdez Villarreal, a suspected drug lord, will remain in a Mexican prison while officials investigate his alleged links to organized crime. (Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images)

By Diego Maya, Diego Gallardo and Olga Vélez for Infosurhoy.com—08/09/2010

MEXICO CITY – Edgar Valdez Villarreal, a suspected drug lord, has been ordered by a Mexican judge to be held for 40 days while he’s investigated for his alleged links to organized crime and other charges, officials said.

Edgar Valdez Villarreal, who earned the nickname “La Barbie” for his smooth skin and green eyes, has been incarcerated at the headquarters of the Federal Police in the nation’s capital since being arrested last week.

The judge’s decision also gives Mexican officials time to decide whether they will extradite Edgar Valdez Villarreal to the United States, where he is wanted on drug charges. Kent Schaffer, Edgar Valdez Villarreal’s attorney, said he intends to file a request to have his client extradited to the United States.

“This is a decision that will have to be made in the upper ranks of the Mexican government and that will take time,” said Schaffer, according to The Associated Press.

The apprehension of Edgar Valdez Villarreal, who had been residing illegally in Mexico, culminated a year-long manhunt by Mexican and United States authorities. Police also arrested seven of his alleged associates, who were ordered by the judge to remain incarcerated for 40 days while they are being investigated for additional charges.

Mexican authorities allege Edgar Valdez Villarreal played a role in dozens of killings as he fought the Beltrán Leyva cartel, one of the country’s largest narcotics-trafficking criminal organizations.

Peru: President Alan García willing to accept U.S. aid

LIMA, Peru – President Alan García said he is willing to accept U.S. military aid to help his country in its fight against narcotics.

He wants the U.S. to fund programs that help strengthen logistical and training programs, according to an interview he gave to CNN en Español.

“On all matters that are humane and universal, I don’t have any disagreement over sovereignty and patriotism,” he said. “That is, if the Americans would like to put training troops (here), as they have helicopters, as they have satellite trainers here, it’s just at the right time.”

He is requesting more aid from the United States in the wake of his country’s becoming the world’s largest grower of coca leaf, the main ingredient used to produce cocaine.

The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime reported Peru had surpassed Colombia as the world’s coca leader, producing 119,000 metric tons last year.

“What is necessary is not being done to close the new European and Asian markets that are demanding more drugs,” García said.

Colombian military kills 11 suspected ELN members

BOGOTÁ, Colombia – Air force and army troops have killed 11 suspected members of the National Liberation Army (ELN), a criminal organization that is one of the nation’s biggest narcotics traffickers.

The battle, during which another suspected ELN member was wounded, occurred at a camp on the banks of the Bojana River near the border with Venezuela, according to the Colombian military.

The air force and soldiers from the army’s 8th Division “carried out a precision attack on a camp of the terrorists of the Eastern War Front of the ELN,” said Gen. Javier Fernández Leal, according to EFE.

The military also confiscated 13 rifles, two-way radios and explosives from the camp, which is about 18 kilometers (11 miles) from the city of Saravena, Fernández Leal said.

“We still haven’t ended the operation,” said Fernández Leal, according to EFE.

The ELN is the nation’s second-largest rebel organization, behind the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

El Salvador: Police find millions in suspected drug money

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – Police have found more than US$10 million in cash they suspect is linked to narcotics trafficking stuffed in two buried oil drums, officials said.

The first barrel was discovered on Sept. 2 on a ranch in the city of Penitente Abajo, about 62 kilometers (40 miles) from the capital.

It contained US$100, US$50 and US$20 bills in suspected drug money, officials said.

“If it turns out that this is the money of drug traffickers, this would be the biggest blow to organized crime in the country,” said Salvadoran Justice Minister Manuel Melgar, according to the BBC.

The discovery caused officials, with the assistance of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, to search the area, during which they found another drum filled with cash about five meters away. El Salvador uses the U.S. dollar as currency.

“It is possible that there are more, and we are obliged to conduct a detailed investigation,” said Carlos Ascencio, director of the National Civil Police, according to The Associated Press.

Nicaragua: Navy kills suspected narcotics trafficker

MANAGUA, Nicaragua – The navy killed a suspected narcotics trafficker in a shootout, arrested another and confiscated an unspecified amount of marijuana, a military spokesman said.

The gunfight occurred at sea, 90 kilometers (56 miles) from Puerto Cabezas, capital of the Autonomous Northern Atlantic Region, in the Cabo Gracias a Dios sector close to Honduras, said Lt. Col. Fabio Zelaya, an army spokesman.

The name and nationality of the alleged narcotics trafficker have yet to be identified, but Kelly Martínez, a 35-year-old native of Bluefields, Nicaragua, was taken into custody, Zelaya said. The navy also seized an M-16 rifle and the speedboat used by the suspected traffickers, he said.

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