Mexican drug lord Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez was arrested this past week in a police raid near Mexico City with six other men on charges related to violence and drug trafficking. The men were allegedly found in possession of weapons and cocaine at the time of their arrest. There has been no word as to whether Texas-born Valdez will face charges in the United States as well, where he is wanted for multiple crimes related to drug trafficking.
Officials in Mexico have been loudly touting the arrest of one of Mexico’s most notorious drug lords, the third such arrest within the past year, in an effort to curb past criticism that they have not done enough to try to eradicate the country’s increasingly violent cartels. Mexican President Felipe Calderon has faced enormous pressure the last few years as the death toll of the feuding cartels has risen to an estimated 28,000 or more as they wage war amongst themselves to gain stronger footholds into drug trafficking routes in South America and, increasingly, the United States.
Calderon has reached out to develop a strong relationship with the DEA in the States to try to stem the tide of violent criminals crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in an effort to protect both nations from the growing threat. This partnership was essential in the arrest of Valdez, a wanted criminal in both countries. It also has led in recent months to the arrest in Mexico of Carlos Ramon Castro-Rocha, aka “Cuate,” in May of this year for trafficking large amounts of heroin into the United States as one of the leaders of the powerful Sinaloa cartel. The combined strength of the Mexican and American officials also resulted this past February in the long-awaited conviction of Miguel Angel Caro Quintero, one of the leaders of the Sonora cartel, for marijuana trafficking.
These high-profile arrests and convictions coming fast and furious on the heels of hundreds of smaller drug-trafficking arrests in the last couple of years point to an aggressive effort by Mexico and the United States to shake up and then eliminate Mexico’s drug cartels. The investigations against Quintero, Castro-Rocha and Valdez were all far-reaching and have involved many different and varied charges being laid against them. President Calderon’s cooperation and aid have been particularly important in the shift of power against the cartels, as he works to get rid of the government corruption that has allowed the gangs to operate their businesses relatively untouched for decades.
It would appear that, with the new focus on initiatives meant specifically to cripple the cartels that Valdez, despite his smiles for the press as he was led away in handcuffs, is very likely to receive a harsh sentence for his alleged crimes in Mexico if he is convicted. It is also very conceivable, due to the cooperation between Mexico and the United States, that he will face conviction in the United States on charges as well.
Ryan, Missy and Barrera, Cyntia, “Mexicans hope drug lord’s arrest may turn tide” NewsDaily.com
Serrano, Richard A., “U.S. Prosecutors rattle, but don’t break Mexican cartels.” LosAngelesTimes.com
Banda, P. Solomon, “Leader of Feared Mexican Cartel gets 17 years.” AbcNews.com
Castillo, E. Eduardo, “Mexican President Critical of Low Conviction Rate.” BorderlandBeat.com
Www.justice.gov, “News from DEA, Domestic Field Divisions, Seattle News Releases.”