Mexico Arrests Drug Boss “La Barbie” Valdez

By Dialogo
September 01, 2010

Mexico arrested drug boss Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez on August 30, in one of the greatest successes of President Felipe Calderón’s campaign against the powerful drug cartels.

Valdez, 37 years old and considered one of the country’s most violent drug bosses, was detained in Mexico state – neighboring on the capital – in an operation by federal police, the Ministry of Public Safety said.

“The arrest of Valdez Villarreal is a powerful blow against organized crime,” the National Security Center spokesperson, Alejandro Poiré, said on the evening of the arrest at a press conference in the presidential residence.

The agency released a photograph in which Valdez appears wearing a close-fitting green shirt, kneeling and with his hands tied behind his back, under guard by several agents.

“La Barbie,” a former ally of drug boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, has been fighting over territory in dispute following the death of Arturo Beltrán Leyva, a leader of the Beltrán Leyva cartel, during a confrontation with security forces in the neighboring state of Morelos in December 2009.

“Valdez Villarreal had connections with organized-crime groups operating in Central and South America for the shipment of drugs to the United States,” said Poiré, who did not indicate whether the government plans to extradite him to the United States, which offered a two-million-dollar reward for his arrest.

“It’s a point in favor of the government, but it’s also good news for the Sinaloa cartel (headed by Guzmán),” said José Releves, an analyst specializing in drug-trafficking issues.

“El Chapo” Guzmán, the country’s most wanted man, is enmeshed in a bloody struggle against the other cartels that operate in the country for control of the drug routes to the United States.

“Unfortunately for Calderón, his arrest could lead to more violence if the Sinaloa cartel, Los Zetas, and La Familia try to take over his territory, which is very likely,” Pedro de La Cruz, an analyst at the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM), said for his part about Valdez’s arrest.


The arrest of “La Barbie” comes a month after the death of drug boss Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel, a key associate of “El Chapo,” in a confrontation with military personnel during an operation in the wealthy neighborhood of Zapopán, on the outskirts of the western city of Guadalajara, from which he supposedly was operating.

Coronel was considered the third-in-command of “El Chapo’s” cartel and had an open arrest warrant in the United States, which offered 5 million dollars for information leading to his detention. Mexico offered up to 2.3 million dollars as a reward.

After taking office in December 2006, President Calderón launched an enormous military campaign against the drug cartels.
Since then, more than 28,000 people have died in episodes related to drug trafficking, and the wave of violence has spread to traditionally calm areas, such as the northern city of Monterrey.

In one of the most recent violent episodes, the week before the arrest, the authorities found seventy-two immigrants from Central and South America murdered on a ranch in the northern state of Tamaulipas.

Days later, in Ciudad Victoria, the state capital, two car bombs exploded, claiming no victims but causing damage to buildings in the area.