‘Missing’ cartel hitman La Barbie may now be federal witness

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'Missing' cartel hitman La Barbie may now be federal witness

When Genaro García Luna, Mexico’s former top cop, goes on trial in Brooklyn federal court on corruption charges Monday, one of the main witnesses may be a convicted drug trafficker who mysteriously disappeared from federal custody last year, The Post has learned.

Edgar Valdez-Villareal, known as “La Barbie,” vanished from the Bureau of Prisons database in November amid rumors that he was cutting a deal with federal prosecutors. He was being held at the maximum-security federal prison USP Coleman II, near Orlando, Florida, for drug trafficking and money laundering, and sentenced to serve until 2056. Now, he is expected to be a “key witness” in Garcia Luna’s trial, a source told The Post.

A spokesman for the US Attorney in the Eastern District of New York had no comment.

García Luna, 54, who once led his country’s fight against drug trafficking as Secretary of Public Security, is accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes via briefcases stuffed with cash from Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel to ensure protection of trafficking routes and allow safe passage of drugs out of Mexico.

Valdez-Villareal had been serving a 49-year sentence for drug trafficking and money laundering before he disappeared from the Bureau of Prisons' database.
Valdez-Villareal had been serving a 49-year sentence for drug trafficking and money laundering before he disappeared from the Bureau of Prisons’ database.
ASSOCIATED PRESS

The former security head, who served between 2006 and 2012 in the administration of former Mexican president Felipe Calderon, was arrested in the US in 2019. He has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors say García Luna, who headed the Mexican equivalent of the FBI, was involved in “the importation and the distribution of massive quantities of dangerous drugs” into the US. He is also accused of sharing information with the Sinaloa cartel regarding its rivals and warning them about law enforcement operations in Mexico.

Genaro García Luna (left), once Mexico's top cop in the administration of former Mexican President Felipe Calderón (right), will stand trial in Brooklyn next week after allegedly taking cartel bribes. He has pleaded not guilty.
Genaro García Luna (left), once Mexico’s top cop in the administration of former Mexican President Felipe Calderón (right), will stand trial in Brooklyn next week after allegedly taking cartel bribes. He has pleaded not guilty.
AFP via Getty Images

Valdez-Villareal, 49, headed up Los Negros, an enforcement group of the Beltran Leyva cartel — one of Mexico’s most ruthless underworld groups. At one point, the Texas-born hitman was a top lieutenant for the Sinaloa Cartel, run by convicted drug dealer El Chapo, who is currently serving a life sentence at a maximum security facility in Colorado.

Fond of designer clothes and expensive watches, Valdez-Villareal eluded authorities for years despite bounties that totaled in the millions of dollars. As a leader of the Beltrán-Leyva cartel’s Los Negros enforcement wing, he participated in torture, which he often videotaped, and recruited police officers and rival cartel members as informants, according to Mexican news reports.

La Barbie has reportedly accused about members of Calderón’s government with colluding with cartels.
La Barbie has reportedly accused members of Calderón’s government with colluding with cartels.
AP

Nicknamed La Barbie because of his fair complexion and blond hair, Valdez-Villareal was scheduled to remain in federal custody at a high security facility in Florida until July 27, 2056, according to federal prison records.

Valdez-Villarreal was arrested in 2010 in Lerma, a suburb of Mexico City, in an operation orchestrated by García Luna. Over the past 12 years he has made several accusations about collusion between the cartels and members of Calderón’s government, according to a report in Spain’s El Pais.

García Luna (above) orchestrated the 2010 arrest of La Barbie.
García Luna (above) orchestrated the 2010 arrest of La Barbie.
AFP via Getty Images

“I know for a fact that he has received money from me, from drug trafficking and organized crime,” La Barbie wrote in a letter from his prison cell to a Mexican reporter in 2012.

When US prison authorities declared that Valdez-Villareal was no longer in US custody, Mexico’s president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador demanded to know what had happened to him last month.

“If there has been an agreement, in any case, we would have to act if there are complaints in Mexico,” said López Obrador in a press conference last month. “The US government has to clarify [the situation] as soon as possible.”

A spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons told The Post last month that “inmates who were previously in BOP custody and who have not completed their sentence may be outside BOP custody for a period of time for court hearings, medical treatment or for 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.” 

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