Joseph Wilkinson | (TNS) New York Daily News
A notorious Mexican drug lord has disappeared from the federal prison registry, and the Mexican government pressed for answers Wednesday.
Edgar Valdez Villarreal, known as “La Barbie,” was sentenced to 49 years in U.S. prison for a variety of crimes.
“We want to know where he is,” Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Wednesday. “The inquiry has been made and there is no clarity on the subject, but we will continue asking [the U.S.] to inform us.”
Mexican news outlets said there was speculation that Villarreal cut a deal with U.S. authorities to testify as a protected witness against former cartel associates.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons told CNN that Villarreal, 49, was no longer in their custody.
“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,” spokesman Benjamin O’Cone told the outlet, but he refused to specify if any of those things applied to Villarreal.
The Texas-born Villarreal, who got his nickname for his light complexion and his blue eyes, started his drug trafficking career by selling marijuana. He eventually graduated to dealing cocaine in cities including Memphis and New Orleans, according to the feds.
Villarreal’s operation caught the attention of Arturo Beltran-Leyva, leader of the Beltran-Leyva cartel. Beltran-Leyva was once a top deputy for “El Chapo,” Joaquin Guzman, in the Sinaloa Cartel.
While working for Beltran-Leyva, Villarreal regularly shipped hundreds of kilograms of cocaine into U.S. cities. He also served as a brutal enforcer for the cartel and helped instigate a turf war between rival groups.
Mexican authorities captured Villarreal in 2010 at his vacation home near Mexico City. He was extradited to the U.S. five years later and pleaded guilty to several crimes in 2016. He was formally sentenced in 2018.
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