A cartel leader and hitman who enjoys videotaping torture sessions and likely beheading dozens of enemies has disappeared from a Florida federal prison where he was serving a 49-year sentence.
In November, Edgar Valdez-Villareal, a Mexican-American cartel leader, was mysteriously removed from the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ website. He is now listed as “not in BOP custody” although his release date is not until July 27, 2056.
Known by his underworld nickname “La Barbie,” Valdez-Villareal, 49, ran Los Negros, an enforcement group of the Beltran Leyva Cartel – one of Mexico’s most ruthless underworld groups. At one point, he was a top lieutenant in the Sinaloa cartel, run by convicted drug dealer Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman-Loera.
Valdez-Villareal grew up in Laredo, Texas and got his nickname from a high school football coach because his blue eyes and fair complexion made him look like a Ken doll, according to one report.
“We named him Ken Doll, mostly because his hair was blonde and kinky like the doll’s,” a friend from United High School told Rolling Stone in 2011.
Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez-Villareal, a Mexican-American cartel leader, had been mysteriously removed from the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ website. He is now listed as “not in BOP custody” although his release date is not until July 27, 2056. AFP via Getty Images La Barbie, a longtime hitman, loved filming torture sessions and beheading his enemies.
Valdez-Villareal loved designer clothes and expensive watches and evaded the authorities for years, despite millions of dollars on bounties. Following the death of cartel leader Arturo Beltran-Leyva in December 2009, La Barbie began a brutal struggle for control of the Beltran-Leyva cartel. As the leader of Los Negros, he participated in torture, which he often videotaped, and recruited police officers and rival cartel members as informants, according to Mexican news reports.
During a particularly vicious phase of a turf war between cartels in Cuernavaca in August 2010, four decapitated bodies were found hanging from a bridge, with warning that anyone who helps La Barbie would meet a similar end.
Valdez-Villareal was being held in the USP Coleman II maximum-security prison, a federal prison near Orlando, Florida. BOP. REG
He was eventually captured in 2010 during a firefight with Mexican authorities at a country home northwest of Mexico City. At the time of his arrest, he was the only American citizen to have risen so high in the ranks of the Mexican cartels.
La Barbie reportedly relocated to Mexico in the 1990s after being accused of trafficking marijuana in the United States. He soon became one of the ruthless underworld enforcers in the fights between drug dealers that left hundreds dead in Mexico.
Forensic police recover bodies in a grave in Puente De Ixtla, Mexico, September 9, 2010. Roberto Santini/EPA/Shutterstock Authorities have recovered 40 bodies from the grave. Roberto Santini/EPA/Shutterstock The house where Valdez-Villareal was arrested. Mvt/EPA/Shutterstock Inside where Valdez-Villareal was captured in August 2010. Mvt/EPA/Shutterstock
While working for the Sinaloa Cartel, Valdez-Villareal was asked by El Chapo to bribe Mexican prison employees to get long johns for the cartel leader’s son. When two men accepted the bribe but demanded $500,000 instead of the original $100,000 fee, La Barbie ratted them out – resulting in their agonizing deaths.
For years he controlled drug routes into Acapulco and reportedly shipped two tons of cocaine to the United States every month. He was also responsible for much of the violence that erupted in the area. In addition to his own Los Negros hit squad, according to US authorities, he recruited other gang members, including MS-13, to take out his rivals.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Mexico wants to know where La Barbie is located.REUTERS
Valdez-Villareal was indicted in the US in 2010 and extradited to the US five years later, where he was convicted of drug trafficking and money laundering.
The question of why he is no longer in BOP custody was raised at the highest level of the Mexican government last week.
Valdez-Villareal at a press conference at the Federal Police Headquarters in Mexico City following his arrest. AFP via Getty Images A vintage booking photo of the Valdez-Villareal from 1997. AP The cartel leader was nicknamed “La Barbie” because of his blue eyes and resemblance to a Ken doll. ZUMAPRESS.com
“It is very strange what is happening in the United States with Mr. Villareal, who is no longer registered among the detainees and we want to know where he is,” President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said in a press conference. “There is no reason for him to leave prison because he was sentenced to many years unless there was some kind of agreement.”
Some Mexican cartel experts say Valdez-Villareal could have struck a deal with federal authorities.
Valdez-Villareal was captured in a firefight in 2010. Getty Images
“He could provide information about high-level cartel members, but even if he did, I don’t see him getting released,” said Robert Almonte, a national security adviser and former deputy chief of the Texas Police Department in El Paso. “He’s very dangerous. He killed people and he’s extremely violent and he still has these connections to the cartels.”
A Bureau of Prisons spokesman declined to say why Valdez-Villareal was no longer in federal custody, but told the Post there could be many reasons. Inmates may be temporarily removed from the location if they are undergoing court hearings, medical treatment, or unspecified “other reasons.”
“We do not provide specific information on the status of inmates who are not in BOP custody for security or privacy reasons,” the spokesman told The Post.