Mexico Drug Cartel Suspect ‘La Barbie’ on Prison Hunger Strike

October 18, 2011

The U.S.-born drug trafficking suspect known as “La Barbie” has gone on a hunger strike at the high-security prison in Mexico where he awaits extradition to the United States because authorities are denying him conjugal visits over discrepancies in his partner’s documents, authorities say.

Edgar Valdez Villarreal, a 38-year-old Texas native known as “La Barbie” for his fair looks, has not eaten prison-prepared food since Oct. 2, authorities said.

He is still receiving food and cleaning products that inmates are able to buy inside the Altiplano prison in the central state of Mexico, the federal public safety ministry said in a statement released Thursday.

The statement comes after a brother of the suspected drug-trafficker told the San Antonio Express-News that Valdez stopped eating on Sept. 26 over conditions at Altiplano. Abel Valdez said his brother went on a hunger strike out of fear that prison authorities are setting him up to be killed by other inmates by spreading a rumor that he is a snitch.

Veronica Peñuñuri, spokeswoman for the federal public safety ministry, said the allegations had no merit. “La Barbie” chose to stop eating the prison’s cafeteria food after his petition for a conjugal visit with an unnamed woman was tripped up due to discrepancies in copies of her birth certificate, Peñuñuri told The Times.

The woman’s documents showed locations of birth in three places: Acapulco, in Guerrero state, Nuevo Laredo in Tamaulipas, and Laredo, Texas, where “La Barbie” was born.

“This is done with all inmates,” Peñuñuri said. “All that is happening is that we are determining where she was born so that she can enter.”

Valdez’s health is not in danger and he is being monitored by prison doctors, she added.

“La Barbie,” accused of running an ultra-violent enforcement arm of the Beltran-Leyva cartel, was arrested in August 2010.

He sparked intrigue among drug-war observers for sporting a sly grin when Mexican authorities presented him in a customary media event. One theory that circulated at the time suggested that Valdez, as a U.S. citizen, was expecting to become a protected witness for U.S. authorities in exchange for a lighter sentence if convicted.

He faces multiple drug trafficking charges in Texas and Louisiana.

More than a year later, Valdez has not been extradited and remains behind bars in Mexico. His brother told the San Antonio paper this week that “La Barbie” is being set up by prison authorities who are spreading rumors about Valdez to other inmates.

“They’re using tactics to keep my brother’s mouth shut because he knows too much,” Abel Valdez told the Express-News.

The suspected trafficker’s lawyers also allege that they’re not given access to their client.

“La Barbie” — a former high school football player in Laredo — also became an unexpected fashion icon after he was presented to the media wearing the clothes he was wearing when captured: a pine-green Ralph Lauren polo shirt with “London” on the front.

These shirts — or more precisely, large quantities of knock-off versions — have since become hot-selling items in the notorious Tepito market of downtown Mexico City and other dense streets where vendors hawk pirated goods, raising concern among Mexican officials about the rise of “narco-fashion”.

This article was written by Daniel Hernandez and published by World Now on October 13, 2011.

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Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Mexico Captures Armando Villareal Heredia an Alleged US-born Tijuana Drug Lieutenant

July 12, 2011

The Associated Press (AP) on July 11, 2011 released the following:

“By ADRIANA GOMEZ LICON, Associated Press

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Federal police have captured a U.S.-born drug lieutenant who joined the Tijuana cartel after a crackdown on the notorious Arellano Felix brothers caused the group to splinter and emerge with a younger leadership, officials said Monday.

Armando Villareal Heredia, 33, is a San Diego native accused of trafficking drugs from the northern state of Sinaloa into the United States, federal police said in a statement.

Villareal is also wanted by the U.S. on federal conspiracy and racketeering charges, according to a 2010 complaint that alleges murder, kidnapping and other crimes in both Mexico and California. Named in the most-wanted list of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s San Diego region, Villareal is among 43 defendants charged by the U.S. Attorney.

Mexican and U.S. authorities say Villareal takes orders from Fernando Sanchez Arellano, aka “The Engineer,” a drug kingpin who is the leader of a younger but weaker Tijuana cartel. Sanchez, who is in his 30s, is a nephew of the four Arellano Felix brothers who have been either killed or arrested since 2006.

In the complaint, U.S. officials say Sanchez’s criminal organization is an offshoot of the defunct Arellano Felix cartel, whose domination of Tijuana was fictionally portrayed in the Hollywood movie “Traffic.”

Federal police arrested Villareal on Saturday in the northern city of Hermosillo.

Justice Department spokeswoman Debra Hartman confirmed Villareal was a U.S. citizen. Hartman did not want to comment on Monday on a possible extradition request.

In the past, Mexican authorities have captured other drug cartel members born in the U.S. Last August Mexican authorities captured a Texas-born drug kingpin Edgar Valdez Villarreal, known as “La Barbie.”

The arrest or death of the Tijuana cartel’s leadership in recent years sparked a bloody war of succession, but the strategy used to bring the gang down is being replicated in other violence-plagued regions.

More than 35,000 people have died since President Felipe Calderon began its offensive against organized crime in 2006, according to official figures. Some groups put the number at more than 40,000.

In other parts of Mexico, drug cartels are also splintering to form offshoots triggering violent confrontations.

On Monday, Mexican authorities blamed the Knights Templar, a gang that broke away from La Familia cartel, for the Friday killings of 11 people outside Mexico City.

The victims were shot with high-powered rifles and found piled near a water well on the outskirts of Mexico City.

The attorney general of Mexico state, home to suburbs that ring Mexico’s capital, said the victims were kidnapped two days earlier in a bar by members of the Knights Templar, according to the only survivor of the mass killing.

Attorney general Alfredo Castillo said the survivor told police only four of the 11 victims were members of the cult-like La Familia cartel and deemed as rivals of the Knights Templar.

Associated Press writer Gloria Perez in Toluca contributed to this story.”

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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