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.”
Fond of designer clothes and expensive watches, Valdez-Villareal eluded authorities for years despite bounties that totaled in the millions of dollars. After the December 2009 death of cartel leader Arturo Beltran-Leyva, La Barbie launched a brutal battle for control of the Beltran-Leyva cartel. As a leader of Los Negros, he participated in torture, which he often videotaped, and recruited police officers and rival cartel members as informants, according to Mexican news reports.
During a particularly vicious phase of a turf war between cartels in Cuernavaca in August 2010, four decapitated bodies were found hanging from a bridge with a warning that anyone helping La Barbie would suffer a similar end.