Mexican cartel leader 'La Barbie' sentenced to nearly 50 years in prison

Edgar Valdez Villareal

"La Barbie" was extradited from Mexico to Atlanta in October 2015 with 12 other defendants.

After connecting with Arturo Beltran Leyva and later Joaquin Guzman-Loera, aka El Chapo, Valdez-Villareal began using speedboats to transport cocaine out of Colombia and other South American countries into Mexico and then on to the United States, the USA attorney said.

A former Texas high school football player who authorities say rose to the top ranks of a Mexican drug cartel has been sentenced to serve almost 50 years in federal prison on drug and money laundering charges. The 44-year-old drug kingpin pleaded guilty to various charges, including conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine as well as money laundering.

Initially, Valdez was up against a life sentence for his crimes.

Duffey wasn't swayed, telling Valdez that his actions were despicable and amounted to a betrayal of his family and his country. It's taken years to get him out of Mexico.

"My parents taught me right from wrong and to stay away from drugs", Valdez said in court.

Born in Laredo, Texas, La Barbie started small by dealing drugs in his teens while attending Laredo United High School.

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Valdez and Beltran Leyva's brother, Hector, began a bloody fight for control that left dismembered and decapitated bodies in the streets and often hanging from bridges in Cuernavaca and Acapulco, along with threatening messages.

After distributing cocaine in cities like Memphis and New Orleans, he entered the Beltran-Leyva drug cartel, which was associated with Joaquin (El Chapo) Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel, prosecutors said.

Valdez was ultimately captured in August 2010 in a home outside Mexico City.

In court, Valdez's sister Carla, an assistant district attorney in Texas, asked the judge for leniency. She acknowledged that her brother had strayed but insisted he was still a good person.

Former Mexican president Felipe Calderon described him as "one of the most-wanted criminals in Mexico and abroad". The drug trafficker was sentenced to 49 years and 1 month in prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release, and ordered to forfeit $192 million by the judge.

Federal police escort Texas-born fugitive Edgar Valdez Villarreal, alias "La Barbie", center, during his presentation to the press in Mexico City, Tuesday Aug. 31, 2010.

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