Captured Mexican drug lord knew top capos

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 - 14:08

Mexico City: A former Texas high school football player and petty street dealer who allegedly rose to become one of Mexico`s most savage assassins says he personally knew the country`s top drug lords and shipped cocaine from Colombia through Panama.

In a video released by Mexico`s federal police, Edgar Valdez Villarreal, known as "the Barbie" for his fair complexion and green eyes, also told his interrogators that he transported cash hidden in trailers.

With his arrest Monday, Valdez became the third major drug lord brought down by Mexico in less than a year. The 37-year-old Valdez faces charges in three U.S. states for trucking in tons of cocaine.

"I have work ... investments, there in Colombia," he said, laughing, on the tape that was broadcast late Tuesday and provided to news organizations, including The Associated Press.

When asked if he worked in drugs, he replied yes.

U.S. prosecutors say Valdez has been the source of tons of cocaine smuggled into the United States.

The arrest was portrayed by the Mexican and U.S. governments as a victory for President Felipe Calderon, who is trying to recover public support for his war on organized crime in the face of escalating violence.

Authorities also said Valdez could provide intelligence on other top traffickers, including Sinaloa chief Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, Mexico`s most-wanted drug lord.

Valdez told interrogators that he knew the principal leaders of the drug cartels, such as Guzman, the brothers Arturo and Hector Beltran Leyva, Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada and Jose Gerardo "El Indio" Alvarez, whom he called his friend.

During the video, Valdez sometimes looked up and laughed. He constantly wiped sweat with a tissue or shirt sleeve, though he did not look nervous.

Local media also showed a video from inside the three-level residence where he was arrested, including paintings of religious subjects, horses and flowers, Gucci and Cartier boxes, big-screen TVs, a pool table and a bar.
Mexican police said they chased Valdez across five Mexican states for a year, a pursuit that intensified in recent months as they raided home after home owned by the drug lord, missing him but nabbing several of his allies.

His arrest also yielded computers, telephones and other equipment authorities said would likely provide more information about his group.
Valdez`s presentation before the media Tuesday coincided with an announcement that Colombian authorities had detained 11 people allegedly linked to the Mexican kingpin in that South American cocaine-producing country. Mexican Federal Police Commissioner Facundo Rosas said the arrests were likely related, with Colombian authorities taking advantage of a break in his organization.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 - 14:08

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