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How Texas-born drug lord ‘La Barbie’ become top leader of a Mexican drug cartel

June 25, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
How Texas-born drug lord ‘La Barbie’ become top leader of a Mexican drug cartel

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Texas drug kingpin Edgar Valdez Villarreal, also known by his nickname “La Barbie” was sentenced in Atlanta last week to serve close to five decades behind bars for his horrific drug-related crimes.

During Valdez’s reign in Mexico, the cartel capo left a track of dismembered and decapitated remains in the streets, hanged bodies from bridges and committed other violent crimes.

“La Barbie” also introduced the brazen method of video recording the interrogation and execution of rival cartel operatives.

However, for this native of Laredo, Texas, Villarreal’s childhood, raised in a middle-class household was far from violent – conversely, it was referred to as “homely.”

Carla Valdez, a Texas prosecutor and one of Valdez’s sisters, told U.S. District Judge William Duffey that she and her siblings were raised by hardworking parents who instilled strong values and morals within them, The Laredo Morning Times reports.

Edgar Valdez played linebacker for the Longhorns during his time at United High School. This photo was scanned from UHS 1992 yearbook.

Edgar Valdez, whom Duffey called an “evil criminal,” was an average Texas teen, who played football at United High School. As the Longhorn’s linebacker, prosecutors said it was during this time that Valdez started dealing marijuana.

However, things intensified after Valdez fled to Mexico to evade arrest for marijuana trafficking.

Read: American Druglord: The Rise and Fall of ‘La Barbie’

“La Barbie” got involved with the Beltran Leyva cartel, whose leaders were tied to Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and the Sinaloa Cartel at the time.

Valdez would ultimately become the head of the Beltran Leyva cartel, after the death of its leader, Arturo Beltran Leyva, in 2009.

Before Mexican federal authorities arrested him in 2010, Valdez lived a flashy, cartel lifestyle. Valdez sported fancy suits and owned luxury residences, including a ranch with a zoo that had a lion, according to prosecutor Elizabeth Hathaway.

His demeanor was one of intimidation and allure. In the years that he managed the gang, Valdez became a legend in Laredo – even inspiring a movie to be made documenting his life.

In an interview by the Houston Chronicle in 2010, Laredo Police tried to make sense of a man who got his start selling small amounts of marijuana to heading a team of assassins.

“There is a lot of speculation to what relationships he had and what led up to where he is now,” Investigator Jose E. Baeza, Laredo Police Department spokesman, said.

Even Valdez’s family is still asking for answers to understand his violent cartel associations. On Monday, Duffey said he was struggling to comprehend how Valdez got so off track despite his strong family upbringing.

Edgar Valdez Villarreal, 44, is seen here in his senior yearbook photo at United High School.

“Why are you a prosecutor and why is your brother an evil criminal?” Duffey asked Carla Valdez.

That’s a question her family wonders every day, she replied.

Despite their loved one’s horrific crimes, Valdez’s parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews filled the courtroom to support him. During his sentencing, his siblings begged with the judge for leniency.

Related: US-born Zetas leader captured by Mexican authorities

But the judge wasn’t convinced.

Valdez was given a sentence of 49 years and one month for crimes in which Duffey described as despicable and a betrayal to his family and his country. Along with the time required to be served, Valdez was also required to forfeit $192 million.

Valdez told the judge he was taking responsibility for his mistakes and apologized to his loved ones.

“I’m not a bad person,” Valdez stated. “I am a good person who has made bad decisions.”

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