A cartel leader and hitman fond of videotaping torture sessions and decapitating likely dozens of enemies has gone missing from a federal prison in Florida, where he was serving a 49-year sentence.
As of November, Edgar Valdez-Villareal, a Mexican American cartel leader, had been mysteriously removed from the federal Bureau of Prisons website. He is now listed as “not in BOP custody” even though his release date is not until July 27, 2056.
Valdez-Villareal, 49, is known by his underworld moniker “La Barbie,” and headed up 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 doll, according to a report.
“We called him Ken Doll, mostly because his hair was blond and kinky like the doll’s,” a friend from United High School told Rolling Stone in 2011. “The coach upped the ante to Barbie, and it took off like wildfire.”
He was finally captured during a firefight with Mexican authorities at a rural home northwest of Mexico City in 2010. 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 moved to Mexico in the 1990s after being charged in the US with dealing marijuana, according to reports. He soon became one of the ruthless underworld enforcers in the battles between drug traffickers that left hundreds dead in Mexico.
“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,” said Robert Almonte, a security consultant and former deputy chief of the Texas Police Department in El Paso. “He’s very dangerous. He’s killed people and he’s extremely violent and still has these connections to the cartels.”
A spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons refused to say why Valdez-Villareal was no longer in federal custody, but told The Post that there could be many reasons. Inmates can be temporarily removed from the site if they are undergoing court hearings, medical treatments or unspecified “other reasons.”
“We do not provide specific information on the status of inmates who are not in the custody of the BOP for safety, security or privacy reasons,” the spokesman told The Post.