Suspected drug lord set to face charges

A judge has ordered a US-born suspected drug lord known as “La Barbie” to be held for 40 days pending an investigation into organised crime, Mexican authorities said today.

Edgar Valdez Villarreal, who got his nickname for his fair skin and green eyes, will be jailed at federal police headquarters in Mexico City during that period, the Attorney General’s Office said in a statement.

The judge’s decision also gives Mexican authorities time to decide whether to deport Valdez to the US, where he faces cocaine charges in three different states.

Valdez, who was born in Laredo, Texas, and has been living illegally in Mexico, was captured outside Mexico City on Monday by federal police, following a year-long pursuit with the help of US intelligence.

Seven of his allies arrested that day were also ordered held for 40 days.

The Attorney General’s Office said Valdez faces probable organised-crime and weapons-possession charges. The office said other charges could emerge from its investigation.

Mexican police have blamed Valdez for several dozen homicides in his fight for control of the Beltran Leyva cartel, a conflict that made a gruesome battleground out of relatively peaceful parts of central Mexico.

He was the third alleged drug lord brought down by the government of President Felipe Calderon since December: Valdez’s boss, Arturo Beltran Leyva, and Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel, the No. 3 in the powerful Sinaloa cartel, were both killed in shootouts with the Mexican military.

Authorities have expressed hope that more cartel leaders will be captured with Valdez’s help. Federal police released a video of La Barbie discussing a meeting several years ago in which Mexico’s top cartels reached a non-aggression pact.

Valdez told police that Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was the first to break that pact two years ago when he tried to wrest control of smuggling routes through the northern state of Chihuahua from the Juarez cartel.

Authorities say Valdez also told interrogators he worked in drug trafficking and transported cash hidden in trailers.

Valdez’s attorney, Kent Schaffer, met with his client for the first time Thursday and said Valdez was reading from a script given to him by police.

Schaffer told The Associated Press that he will request that Valdez be deported for prosecution in the United States.

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