Mexican officials said Saturday they have begun the process to extradite alleged drug kingpin Edgar Valdez, known as “La Barbie” for his fair looks, to the United States on drug trafficking charges.
Valdez, a U.S. national born in Laredo, Texas, is charged in a 2002 indictment in Louisiana for alleged cocaine trafficking, and a 1998 indictment for drug trafficking in Texas.
The bilingual Valdez, 37, was arrested on August 30 in a police raid in central Mexico. Known as a ruthless killer, Mexican officials blame him for scores of murders across the country, especially in the southern tourist resort of Acapulco.
As previously reported, Valdez specifically requested extradition to the United States to face the charges. Several motives might exist for this request, such as the fear of being killed in Mexico’s dangerous prisons or perhaps the possibility of providing U.S. authorities with information regarding Mexican drug cartels in exchange for a plea agreement.
A judge ordered Valdez detained pending extradition, the office of Mexico’s attorney general said in a statement.
Valdez was moved to the maximum security prison of El Altiplano, in the central state of Mexico, until the months-long extradition process has been completed.
Valez was a key lieutenant of Arturo Beltran Leyva, who headed the cartel that bears his name and was Mexico’s third most-wanted man until he was killed in a military raid in December 2009.
As a head of Beltran Leyva’s hit squad, “La Barbie” allegedly engaged in a bloody gang war with Arturo’s brother Hector for control of the Beltran Leyva organization.
Since his arrest the Mexican government had not pressed charges, and President Felipe Calderon was forced to deny talk that Valdez negotiated his surrender.
The U.S. State Department had offered up to two million dollars for information leading to his arrest and capture, and Mexican authorities offered 2.2 million dollars.
“La Barbie” is one of six drug lords the government says it has captured or killed this year in Mexico.
Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.
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