La Barbie, whose real name is Edgar Valdez Villarreal, was a Texas football star before he moved to Mexico City and joined the Sinaloa Cartel.
Clambering to proclaim victory after more than three years of bloody narcotics warfare, Mexican authorities paraded a Texas-born accused kingpin before the media Tuesday and offered abundant details of his climb through the violent drug underworld before his capture Monday in a mountain hideout.
While speculation surged that Mexico would deport Edgar Valdez Villarreal, a 37-year-old former football star from Laredo, Texas, to stand trial in the United States, where he's still a citizen, there was no immediate sign of action by Mexico or the US.
Federal Police commissioner Facundo Rosas said the capture of Valdez, who's known by the unlikely nickname of "La Barbie," came after a yearlong hunt that involved as many as 1,200 law enforcement officers.
By Monday afternoon, a ring of security officers encircled the rustic mountain house in Salazar, about 20 miles west of Mexico City, where Valdez had holed up, Rosas said. Mobile phone service in the area was spotty, and the target and six underlings couldn't summon backup to fight their way free, he said. They were detained around 6:30 p.m. without any gunfire.
"Intelligence information indicates that 'La Barbie' trafficked one ton of cocaine each month," Federal Police counternarcotics chief Ramon Pequeno said at a news conference Tuesday.
His capture gives a boost to President Felipe Calderón, who declared war on drug cartels after coming to power in late 2006. The death toll, which recently soared past 28,000 people, has soured many Mexicans on Calderón's tough drug-enforcement policies. Valdez is the third top drug lord to be arrested or killed in nine months.
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