Valdez worked for several years as a cartel lieutenant before rising to a leadership position in an enforcement squad called Los Negros. Following the death of cartel boss Arturo Beltrán Leyva in late 2009, Valdez fought a bloody and protracted gang war for control of the cartel resulting in over 150 deaths. He employed techniques such as videotaped torture and decapitation.
On August 30, 2010, he was arrested by the Mexican Federal Police at a rural house near Mexico City. He faces charges in both Mexico and the United States. His gang known as Los Negros collapsed by 2011.
Edgar was born and grew up in Laredo, Texas. He was a high school football standout. Valdez's nickname, La Barbie, came from his American football coach at United High School; due to his light skin, green eyes, and facial features, he was compared to a Ken doll.
Valdez's first arrest came at 19 in Texas, where he was charged with criminally negligent homicide for running over a middle school counselor with his truck while speeding down a Laredo street. He was not indicted. He became a marijuana dealer on the streets of Laredo while still in high school. He turned down his father's offer to finance a college education in order to focus on his business, but was soon indicted on charges of distributing marijuana. He fled to Mexico to avoid capture, where he allegedly joined The Beltrán-Leyva Cartel and quickly moved up through the ranks due to his connections in the United States.
Valdez came to lead the enforcement gang called Los Negros, who were engaged in a territorial dispute in the Nuevo Laredo region against The Los Zetas Organization. Los Negros orchestrated kidnappings and recruited operatives, including corrupt police officers, military personnel and federal agents, according to the attorney general's office. While the group was allegedly controlled directly by Valdez, it used to be overseen by The Beltrán-Leyva Cartel.
According to Mexican media reports, shortly after the death of the cartel's leader, Arturo Beltrán Leyva on December 16, 2009, Valdez began to dispute the cartel's leadership and its territory; one faction was led by Valdez and Gerardo Alvarez-Vazquez, while the other is led by Arturo's brother Héctor Beltrán Leyva and his lieutenant Sergio Villarreal Barragán.
In August 2010 four decapitated bodies were found hung from a bridge in Cuernavaca, along with a message warning anyone helping Valdez of a similar fate. Both sides engaged in similarly gruesome tactics intended to warn off the other; over 150 deaths are allegedly linked to the dispute.
U.S. government reports allege that Los Negros have been known to employ local gangs such as MS-13 and Mexican Mafia to carry out murders and other illegal activities.
Charges and allegationsEdit
The Mexican police had been searching for Valdez since his 2002 indictment on two counts of conspiracy with the intent to distribute marijuana. In their investigation, police raided homes he has rented, locating grenades, automatic weapons and police uniforms. In May 2009, the Mexican authorities listed him as one of their 24 most wanted drug traffickers, and posted a $30 million pesos ($2.3 million USD) reward for information leading to his capture.
Valdez pleaded innocent, taking out ads in the local Monterrey newspaper, El Norte, describing himself as: "a legitimate businessman who had been forced to leave Nuevo Laredo and move to the neighboring state of Coahuila because he was being harassed for bribes by local police officers."
In June 2010, Valdez was indicted in a U.S. court on charges of trafficking thousands of kilograms of cocaine from Mexico into the United States between 2004 and 2006. Mexican officials claim that Valdez introduced to the U.S. about one ton of cocaine per month. In 2009, the Justice Department posted a $2 million reward for information leading to his capture.
Mexican police said they tracked Valdez across five Mexican states for a year, a pursuit that intensified in the latest months as they raided home after home owned by the drug lord, missing him but arresting several of his allies. On August 30, 2010, Valdez was captured by the Mexican Federal Police near Mexico City.
In a video released by Mexico's federal police on September 1, 2010, Valdez told his interrogators how he smuggled drugs from Panama to the United States and transported cash from the U.S. back into Mexico hidden in trailers. He said that he spent $200,000 to make a film based on his life; however, he decided not to release the movie because it might reveal too much information about him. After Valdez' arrest, his father-in-law, Carlos Montemayor González, (a.k.a., El Charro) took control of the cartel, only to be arrested 3 months later on November 24, 2010.
His American lawyer told the New York Times that Valdez denies all charges against him and that the video confession was made under duress. In November, 2010, Mexico started his extradition process to the United States.