A notorious Texas-born drug cartel leader and hitman suspected of torturing and decapitating dozens of victims have vanished from the federal prison database, despite not being up for release until 2056, and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) refuses to disclose his whereabouts.
Edgar Valdez-Villareal, a 49-year-old who goes by the criminal moniker “La Barbie,” is listed as “not in BOP custody” on the Bureau of Prisons website. The BOP says it released Valdez-Villareal on November 27, although the bureau frequently lists inmates as “released” when they have been transferred to the custody of another group.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is demanding answers about the missing criminal last week. Reporters asked him about the cartel leader’s whereabouts during a press conference.
“It’s very strange what is going on in the United States with Mr. Villareal, who is no longer registered among those in custody, and we want to know where he is,” Obrador told reporters. “There is no reason for him to leave prison because he was condemned to many years unless there was some kind of an agreement.”
A spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons refused to say why Valdez-Villareal was no longer in federal custody but told The New York Post that there could be many reasons.
Valdez-Villareal was extradited to the U.S. in 2015 and sentenced to 49 years in prison. He was being housed at a facility in Florida.
“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 outlet.
Born in Texas, Valdez-Villareal got his nickname from a high school football coach who thought his blue eyes made him look like a Ken doll, according to the Post.
Having been charged in the US with dealing marijuana, Valdez-Villareal moved to Mexico in the 1990s.
Millions of dollars worth of bounties were placed on his head over the years but he continued to evade authorities until he was captured following a gunfight in 2010, according to the Daily Star.
Following the December 2009 death of cartel leader Arturo Beltran-Leyva, La Barbie launched a brutal battle for control of the Beltran-Leyva cartel.
While the leader of Los Negros, one of the most brutal gangs in the Mexican underworld, he participated in torture, which he often videotaped, and recruited police officers and rival cartel members as informants, according to reports in Mexico.
In 2010 four decapitated bodies were found during a vicious turf war, with a warning that anyone who helped Valdez-Villareal would meet a similar feat.
He was ultimately taken into custody after a firefight with Mexican police in 2010, leading to his extradition to the U.S.