The Associated Press reports that a cartel leader extradited from Mexico has received a sentence of almost 50 years in prison today. In Atlanta, Texas-born fugitive Edgar Valdez Villarreal, aka “La Barbie,” has also been ordered to forfeit $192 million. Villarreal is a former football player and rose to control a Mexican drug cartel, and has been convicted on money laundering and drug charges.
Villarreal, 44, allegedly brought trucks full of cocaine to the U.S. from Mexico and sent millions in cash back across the border. He was arrested in 2010 and extradited in 2015. In 2016, he pleaded guilty to conspiring to import and distribute cocaine and laundering money.
As a linebacker for Laredo United High School, Villarreal first started as a street drug dealer as a teenager. He later joined the higher rankings of the Beltran Layva gang, living a flashy lifestyle owning multiple homes and dressing in designer gear.
Mexican marines killed the gang’s leader in 2009, and the leader’s brother and Villarreal began a bloody battle for control, leaving dismembered bodies in the streets and hanging off bridges in Cuernavaca and Acapulco.
A U.S.-trained Mexican federal police squad arrested him in 2010 after receiving multiple tips. The Mexican President at the time, Felipe Calderon, called him “one of the most-wanted criminals in Mexico and abroad.”
*Photo credit The Associated Press