Mexico: Edgar Valdez Villarreal to be extradited to United States

Edgar Valdez Villarreal, aka “La Barbie,” is expected to face kidnapping, illegal arms possession and cocaine trafficking charges in the United States, according to Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office. (Henry Romero/Reuters)

Edgar Valdez Villarreal, aka “La Barbie,” is expected to face kidnapping, illegal arms possession and cocaine trafficking charges in the United States, according to Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office. (Henry Romero/Reuters)

By Olga Vélez and Gibran Haq for Infosurhoy.com—24/11/2010

MEXICO CITY – Prosecutors have initiated the process to extradite suspected narcotics trafficker Edgar Valdez Villarreal to the United States, a spokesman for the Mexican Attorney General’s Office said.

Valdez Villarreal, whose looks earned him the nickname “La Barbie,” was apprehended in Mexico City metropolitan area on Aug. 30. Valdez Villarreal, 37, is expected to face kidnapping, illegal arms possession and cocaine trafficking charges in the United States, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

A U.S. Federal Court in Louisiana has requested Valdez Villarreal be extradited so he can face allegations of “criminal conspiracy and distribution of more than five kilograms (11 pounds) of cocaine,” according to the Attorney General’s Office.

“[He’s] one of the key men in Mexico’s drug trade in the past few years and one of the main leaders of the Beltrán Leyva organization,” the Attorney General’s Office said in a statement.

The criminal organization allegedly led by Valdez Villarreal has been engaged in a turf war against the Beltrán Leyva cartel for control of Mexico’s lucrative smuggling routes into the United States.

Colombia, Venezuela to form counter-narcotics accord

CARTAGENA, Colombia – Colombian and Venezuelan officials have laid the groundwork for a counter-narcotics accord after a recent meeting, a sign the neighboring nations are strengthening their diplomatic relationship.

Colombian Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera and Venezuelan Interior Minister Tarek El Aissami signed an initial pact that will be sent to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez for final approval.

The pact calls for the Andean nations to work together in the fight against narcotics, including partnering in simultaneous operations, the establishing of an intelligence system and the sharing of counter-narcotics information regarding drug trafficking routes.

“From now on, we’re going to talk more with deeds than with words,” Rivera said, adding the agreement is a step to achieve “beneficial peace for both countries.”

Santos reiterated his promise to extradite suspected narcotics trafficker Walid Makled, who was arrested in Colombia on Aug. 19, to Venezuela.

Makled and his brothers are accused of using the airline they ran as part of an operation to export 10 tons of cocaine monthly. Two years ago, police apprehended Makled’s three brothers after discovering 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of cocaine on a family ranch.

Makled also has been charged in Venezuela in connection with the killings of Colombian drug kingpin Wilber Alirio Varela, lawyer and journalist Orel Zambrano and veterinarian Francisco Larrazábal, both Venezuelan nationals.

Colombia: Héctor Eudoro Rivera Erazo arrested

BOGOTÁ, Colombia – Héctor Eudoro Rivera Erazo, alleged leader of the Los Rastrojos and the gang’s liaison to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), has been arrested in the southern department of Putumayo, according to the Colombian website Semana.com.

Rivera, who is accused of playing a role in 26 killings and the disappearances of 14, also is suspected of being involved in the FARC’s narcotics trade, officials said.

“He had a criminal association with ‘Oliver Solarte’ [an alleged member of the FARC 48th front], with whom he exchanged hallucinogens to sell to various suppliers,” said Gen. César Augusto Pinzón Arana, the commander of the Police Anti-Narcotics Directorate, according to the Colombian website El Colombiano.com. “He is … wanted on charges of aggravated conspiracy, aggravated murder, murder of protected persons and illegal possession of weapons.”

Rivera, who goes by the alias “Caballo,” also is suspected of having ordered killings, kidnappings and extortions.

“He is accused of collecting 200 kilograms [440 pounds] of cocaine a week for Los Rastrojos and taking the drug to various shipping ports in the Pacific and from Putumayo department to Ecuador,” said Pinzón, according to El Colombiano.com.

Colombia: Officials dismantle cocaine lab in Bogotá

BOGOTÁ, Colombia – Officials have dismantled the first cocaine laboratory found in the nation’s capital, destroying the facility that could produce as much as 200 kilograms (440 pounds) monthly, police said.

Counter-narcotics agents took over the laboratory in the southern neighborhood of Altamira after arresting a man identified as Alfredo López, who was found on the premises on Nov. 20, according to a statement.

“It’s worth mentioning that this is the first time a laboratory like this has been dismantled in Bogotá,” the statement said.

Police also seized seven kilograms (15 pounds) of cocaine base paste and an array of materials used in the production of the narcotic after an informant’s tip led them to the laboratory, according to EFE.

“At the scene, in order to cover up their illicit activity, the gang used a barn for breeding fighting cocks, hiding the smell of the chemicals with the smell of the fowls’ excrement,” the statement said.

Brazil: Police seize 915 pounds of crack

SÃO PAULO, Brazil – Police arrested two suspects and confiscated 415.4 kilograms (915 pounds) of crack cocaine and two kilograms (4.5 pounds) of marijuana from a residence in the east side of São Paulo, officials said on Nov. 20.

The bust, which was one of the largest crack seizures in São Paulo state, culminated a six-week investigation. Police found the narcotics hidden behind a fake wall in a residence in the Água Rasa neighborhood, according to the Brazilian news agency Agência Estado, which sourced the Public Safety Department.

Police also discovered a crack laboratory in the upstairs floor of the home, according to Agência Estado.

Jorge Luis Figueroa, a suspected narcotics trafficker, arrested

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Law enforcement agents arrested suspected international narcotics trafficker Jorge Luis Figueroa Agosto while he was aboard a cruise ship vacationing with his family on Nov. 22.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents had been investigating Figueroa for his alleged role in one of the biggest narcotics smuggling organizations in the Caribbean. Jorge Luis Figueroa Agosto is suspected of having a primary role in a criminal enterprise headed by his brother, José Figueroa Agosto. José was arrested in Puerto Rico in July.

U.S. Federal agents launched a massive operation throughout Puerto Rico to arrest 17 suspected members of the Figueroas’ alleged enterprise who are facing federal indictments.

Jorge Luis Figueroa Agosto already was aboard the Caribbean Princess with his family before the wave of apprehensions started, The Associated Press reported.

But agents on the ship took him into custody without incident before the vessel reached the U.S. Virgin Islands, John Morton, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said.

Eleven other suspects were arrested in connection with the Figueroas’ alleged narcotics-trafficking gang, but law enforcement officials still are searching for the rest who have been named in a federal indictment.

The gang allegedly trafficked huge amounts of cocaine in boats from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico, where the narcotic was sold on the local market or routed to the United States, Morton said.

“There are other drug trafficking organizations, but this is one of the biggest,” Morton said, according to the AP.

Spain: Authorities dismantle a cocaine-trafficking ring

VALENCIA, Spain – Law enforcement officials arrested 18 suspects in connection with the seizure of 2.2 tons of Colombian cocaine recently smuggled into the port of Valencia.

The group had a “complete infrastructure,” because several workers at the port are suspected of retrieving the narcotic and then resealing the containers in which the cocaine had been stored, according to a joint statement by the National Police and the Spanish Civil Guard.

The bust culminated an operation that lasted several months and confiscated a total of 2,227 kilograms (4,900 pounds) of cocaine suspected of belonging to the Valencia-based syndicate.

Authorities also seized €56,000 (US$75,000), seven vehicles, nine firearms, 33 cell phones and three computers, according to Caracol.com.

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