'La Barbie' Drug Lord No Longer in BOP Custody

Mexico wants to know what happened to man who was serving 49-year sentence
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 1, 2022 4:29 PM CST
'La Barbie' Drug Lord No Longer in BOP Custody
This undated photo shows Edgar Valdez Villarreal.   (AP Photo/US Attorney's Office)

Mexico would like American authorities to explain what has happened to Edgar Valdez Villarreal, a drug lord who was extradited to the US after his capture in 2010 but is now listed as no longer in federal Bureau of Prisons custody. Valdez, nicknamed "La Barbie" because of his light complexion and blue eyes, was sentenced to 49 years in prison in 2018 for crimes including conspiracy to import cocaine. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said his disappearance from the prison register was "odd" and the US government "has to clear it up as soon as possible," CBS News reports.

Valdez, who's in the BOP system as "Edgar Valdez-Villareal," is listed as "NOT IN BOP CUSTODY," but his release date is still listed as July 27, 2056, the Laredo Morning Times reports. Valdez was born in Texas—where his sister is a prosecutor—and he played high school football while growing up in Laredo. BOP spokesman Benjamin O'Cone told CNN that while the bureau won't comment on specific prisoners who are outside its custody, inmates "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."

There have been reports that Valdez, who'd been held at a maximum security prison in Florida, has become a witness for federal prosecutors, per the Times. "If he is not in prison, you have to see the agreement they made with him because his sentence was for several years. Here in Mexico, there are also complaints filed against him," the Mexican president said, per CNN. Before his arrest in Mexico, Valdez had been "ruthlessly working his way up the ranks of one of Mexico's most powerful cartels," per the Justice Department. The group he led, Los Negros, was linked to scores of kidnappings and killings in its role as enforcer for the Sinaloa cartel and then the breakway Beltran-Leyva cartel. (More Edgar Valdez stories.)

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