Notorious drug cartel leader, a brutal hitman who decapitated dozens of victims, “disappears” from US prison system

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UNITED STATES – According to reports, a notorious drug cartel leader and hitman suspected of torturing and decapitating dozens of victims has vanished from the United States prison system.

Despite not being eligible for release until 2026, 49-year-old Edgar Valdez-Villareal who goes by the criminal alias “La Barbie,” is listed as “not in BOP custody” on the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) website.

The BOP says that it released the violent man on November 27th. As of this writing, it is unclear if he has actually been released or if he has just been transferred to the custody of another group, which the BOP frequently does.

Either way, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador wants answers about the missing criminal. During a press conference, reporters asked him about the cartel leader’s whereabouts. He said in a statement:

“It’s very strange what is going on in the United States with Mr. Villareal, who is no longer registered among those in custody, and we want to know where he is. There is no reason for him to leave prison because he was condemned to many years, unless there was some kind of an agreement.”

Valdez-Villareal was head of the Los Negros, an enforcement group of the Beltran Leyva cartel, one of Mexico’s most ruthless underworld groups. At one point, he was a top lieutenant for the Sinaloa Cartel, run by convicted drug dealer Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman-Loera.

Valdez-Villareal grew up in Laredo, Texas, and was given his nickname from a high school football coach because his blue eyes and light complexion made him look like a Ken barbie doll. In 2011, a friend from United High School told the Rolling Stone:

“We called him Ken doll, mostly because his hair was blond and kinky like the doll’s. The coach upped the ante to barbie and it took off like wildfire.”

Valdexz-Villareal eluded authorities for years despite bounties that totaled in the millions of dollars. After the December 2009 death of cartel leader Arturo Beltran-Leyva, La Barbie launched a brutal battle for control of the cartel.

As leader of Los Negros, he participated in torture, which he often videotaped, and recruited police officers and rival cartel members as informants.

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During a vicious phase of a turf war between cartels in Cuernavaca back in August 2010, four decapitated bodies were found hanging from a bridge with a warning sign that anyone helping La Barbie would suffer a similar fate.

In 2010, Valdez-Villareal was finally captured during a firefight with Mexican authorities at a rural home northwest of Mexico City.

At the time of his capture, he was the only American citizen to have ever risen so high in the ranks of Mexico’s cartels.

La Barbie reportedly moved to Mexico in the 1990s after being charged in the U.S. with dealing marijuana. He soon became one of the ruthless underworld enforcers in the battles between drug traffickers that left hundreds dead in Mexico.

For years, he controlled the drug routes into Acapulco, moving two tons of cocaine into the U.S. every month. He was also responsible for much of the violence that erupted in that area.

In addition to his own Los Negros hit squad, he allegedly recruited other gang members, including MS-13, in an effort to eliminate his rivals.

He was indicted in the United States in 2010 and then he was extradited to the United States in 2015 where he was found guilty of drug trafficking and money laundering. He sentenced to 49 years in prison and was being housed in a facility in the state of Florida.

Some experts on the Mexican cartels said that Valdez-Villareal could have very well made a deal with federal authorities and that could be why he is no longer showing up in the BOP database.

Robert Almonte, a security consultant and former deputy chief of the Texas Police Department in El Paso, said:

“He could be providing information on high-ranking cartel members, but even if this were the case I can’t see him being released from custody. He’s very dangerous. He’s killed people and he’s extremely violent and still has these connections to the cartels.”

When asked by the New York Post, a spokesman for the BOP refused to say why Valdez-Villareal was no longer in federal custody. He did, however, say that there could be many reasons.

He said that inmates can be temporarily removed from the site if they are undergoing court hearings, medical treatments, or unspecified “other reasons,” adding:

“We do not provide specific information on the status inmates who are not in the custody of the BOP for safety, security or privacy reasons.”

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