Here is an excerpt from Sara Miller Llana's article in the Christian Science Monitor:
"Mexico officials announced late Monday that they captured Edgar Valdez Villarreal, or “La Barbie,” one of the country's most-wanted men. Authorities have described him as a powerful drug lord responsible for supplying the American market with cocaine... Mr. Valdez, who was born in Texas and nicknamed “La Barbie” for his fair complexion, was captured Monday outside Mexico City. He is the third major trafficking suspect to be taken down in the past eight months... The government says that Valdez, 37, is a top player in the Beltran Leyva Cartel, and that his power has grown since the group´s founder Arturo Beltran Leyva was killed late last year. The group is suspected of being behind the growing violence in the central state of Mexico, bringing the types of beheadings and gangland violence to the capital region that were once confined to border towns hundreds of miles away... But it is unclear whether the capture will quell violence or cause it to increase in the short-term." Link to Full Article
Analysis: You can chalk up another victory for the good guys, as "La Barbie" was definitely a big fish. Villarreal has been on the Mexican drug scene for a while, and has made quite a name for himself in the world. He has a reputation for being very brutal, and is credited with posting a gruesome video on YouTube of himself torturing rival narcos.
Villarreal is a fascinating figure for those of us who follow the drug war. He's from Texas, relatively young at age 36, and comes from a good family. He played football in high school and had a pretty normal American life, until he discovered Mexico's underworld across the border. Not only did he seem to like it better, but he found he was really good at drug trafficking. Tales have been spun about him and his lifestyle that have turned him into a sort of myth or legend; he dresses extremely well, is a womanizer, has nice cars, eats only at fine restaurants, etc. No matter what stories are true or not, the bottom line remains that he's a drug trafficker and a ruthless killer.
I can tell you it wasn't easy to catch him. The Mexican authorities are saying his arrest was the culmination of a year-long operation, and just the fact that the US government had a $2 million price on his head should tell you something. There's currently no word on whether or not he'll be extradited to the US, as he has been indicted here.
I can also tell you that Hector is happy. That would be Hector Beltrán Leyva, with whom Villarreal has been fighting for control of what's left of the BLO. Central Mexico and the capital have been relatively quiet in recent years, but since the death of BLO chief Arturo Beltrán Leyva in December 2009, things have gotten bad. Villarreal has been working on the enforcement side of things for several years, and probably saw Arturo's death - and perhaps Hector's perceived lack of capability - as an opportunity to seize more power. So he and Hector have been battling it out through public displays of death and destruction.
This isn't to say that Hector will have smooth sailing from here on out. I'm not very familiar with Villarreal's people or how organized they are. SOMEONE is going to see La Barbie's arrest as an opportunity no matter what, especially since the BLO is one of those DTOs that is crumbling and ripe for the picking. More to come, I'm sure...