MEXICO CITY – Prosecutors have “started the process” to extradite U.S.-born drug trafficker Edgar Valdez Villarreal to the United States, a spokesman for the Mexican Attorney General’s Office said.
Valdez Villarreal, known as “La Barbie,” was arrested in August in the central state of Mexico, which surrounds the Federal District and forms part of the Mexico City metropolitan area.
The suspect faces numerous charges for kidnappings, illegal arms possession and cocaine trafficking, the AG’s office said.
The extradition process was initiated by a court in the southern state of Guerrero and another “arrest warrant with the goal of extradition” was issued by a federal judge in Mexico City, the AG’s office said.
A U.S. federal court in Louisiana presented a “formal request” for Valdez Villarreal’s extradition for alleged “criminal conspiracy and distribution of more than five kilograms of cocaine,” the AG’s office said.
Valdez Villarreal, who was born on Aug. 11, 1973, in Laredo, Texas, was “one of the key men in Mexico’s drug trade in the past few years and one of the main leaders of the Beltran Leyva organization,” the AG’s office said.
The gang led by Valdez Villarreal has been fighting a rival faction for control of the Beltran Leyva drug cartel.
The 37-year-old Valdez Villarreal, who got his nickname because of his leading-man good looks, was arrested by Federal Police on Aug. 30.
Control of the cartel has been up for grabs since powerful drug lord Arturo Beltran Leyva was killed in a shootout with marines on Dec. 16 in Cuernavaca, the capital of Morelos state and main bastion of the criminal organization.
The organization created by the five Beltran Leyva brothers – Marcos Arturo, Mario Alberto, Carlos, Alfredo and Hector – smuggles cocaine, marijuana and heroin.
The cartel is also involved in people trafficking, money laundering, extortion, kidnapping, contract hits and arms trafficking.
Two weeks after Arturo was killed, Carlos Beltran Leyva was arrested on Dec. 30 in Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state, where he was going by the alias of Carlos Gamez.
Arturo and Mario Alberto shared the leadership of the Beltran Leyva cartel, which arose as a splinter group of the powerful Sinaloa cartel led by Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman.
Valdez Villarreal is currently being held at a federal prison in Mexico state.