Cartel boss mysteriously no longer in US custody, despite 34 years left on his sentence

by Jacob Fuller

Chris Lieberman, FISM News


A notorious cartel drug lord with 34 years left on his sentence is no longer in U.S. custody, and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador wants to know why.

According to the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) website, cartel leader Edgar Valdez-Villareal is, “Not in BOP custody.” Valdez-Villareal, nicknamed “La Barbie” due to his fair skin, was serving a 49-year sentence for drug trafficking and money laundering charges.

President Lopez Obrador demanded answers on Valdez-Villareal’s disappearance, stating that the U.S. government has not yet informed Mexico on his whereabouts.

“It’s very strange what is going on in the United States with Mr. Villareal, who is no longer registered among those in custody, and we want to know where he is,” Lopez Obrador said at a press conference Wednesday. “There is no reason for him to leave prison, because he was condemned to many years, unless there was some kind of an agreement.”

A BOP spokesman told CNN in an email that the bureau does not disclose specific information on inmates no longer in BOP custody due to “safety, security, or privacy reasons,” but stated that, “Inmates who were previously in BOP custody and who have not completed their sentence may be outside BOP custody for a period of time for court hearings, medical treatment or for other reasons.”

While some, like Lopez Obrador, speculate that Valdez-Villareal may have made a deal to give U.S. authorities information on the cartel in exchange for his release, security consultant and former deputy chief of the Texas Police Department in El Paso Robert Almonte finds this explanation unlikely.

“He could be providing information on high-ranking cartel members, but even if this were the case I can’t see him being released from custody,” Almonte told the New York Post. “He’s very dangerous. He’s killed people and he’s extremely violent and still has these connections to the cartels.”

Before his capture, the U.S.-born Valdez-Villareal was the leader of Los Negros, the enforcement arm of the Beltran Leyva cartel. He fought and won a bloody battle to control the cartel following the death of the previous leader, Arturo Beltran Leyva. He had also previously been the top lieutenant for notorious drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman-Loera in the Sinaloa cartel.

As part of the cartel’s operation, Valdez-Villareal was responsible for coordinating the shipping of cocaine from Colombia and other South American countries into Mexico, and from there bringing the drug across the border to distributors in the United States. He earned a reputation as a brutal hitman known to film himself torturing and decapitating his victims. He also bribed police officers and rival gang members, whom he used as informants.

Despite high bounties on his head, Valdez-Villareal was able to evade capture for years until a 2010 shootout with Mexican authorities outside Mexico City ended in his arrest. He was indicted in the U.S. that same year and extradited in 2015. In 2018, he was sentenced to 49 years in federal prison and fined $192,000.

“Valdez-Villareal imported tons of cocaine into the U.S. while ruthlessly working his way up the ranks of one of Mexico’s most powerful cartels, leaving in his wake countless lives destroyed by drugs and violence,” U.S. Attorney Byung J. Pak said after Valdez-Villareal’s sentencing.

This may indicate something of a pattern within the Biden Administration of releasing some of the world’s most notorious and violent criminals. The news of Valdez-Villareal comes the day after the U.S. government released convicted international terrorist Viktor Bout, known as the “Merchant of Death,” in exchange for WNBA basketball player Brittney Griner.