Edgar Valdez Villarreal “La Barbie” Joins the War Against Los Zetas.
The Associated Press
Authorities say a U.S.-born hitman is fighting the brother of a deceased drug lord for control of the Beltran-Leyva cartel, marking what may be the first time an American has risen to the very top ranks of Mexican gangs.
Ramon Pequeno, head of the anti-narcotics division of Mexico's federal police, said Tuesday that Texas-born Edgar Valdez Villarreal, nicknamed "La Barbie," is battling Hector Beltran Leyva for control of the Beltran Leyva cartel.
"Right now it appears there is an internal dispute for control of the organization," Pequeno said. "On one side is `La Barbie' and on the other side is Hector Beltran, the natural heir of the organization."
Pequeno said the battle was unleashed when cartel leader Arturo Beltran Leyva died in a shootout with Mexican marines in December. Both men are apparently carrying out killings in bids to take control of the gang, one of Mexico's most powerful.
A previous top drug lord, Juan Garcia Abrego, was expelled to the United States in 1996 for purportedly being a U.S. citizen. But he appeared to have lived all his life in Mexico and reports have raised doubts about whether he was born in Texas, as one birth certificates states.
Valdez Villarreal was born in the border city of Laredo, Texas, and has built a reputation as one of the most brutal enforcers employed by Mexican drug gangs.
Turf battles among Mexico's drug gangs and attacks on law enforcement officers and civilians have killed about 17,900 people since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against the gangs when he took office in December 2006.
The battles have become so fierce in some regions - particularly along the border - that the U.S. government has cautioned its citizens to avoid unnecessary travel to some areas.
Late last week, the U.S. consulate in the northern city of Monterrey warned Americans to avoid traveling by road between Monterrey and the border cities of Nuevo Laredo and Reynosa, citing a "heightened risk of violence" on those highways.
It also noted "an increase in carjackings in the city and on the highways, including an incident involving a U.S. citizen on the toll (cuota) highway to Reynosa."
With the emergence of a “narcobanners” signed by the Zetas , boteing that they want “the square” and opens the door for a possible war between this criminal group and Edgar Valdez Villarreal, “La Barbie,” deputy leader of the assassins of the Beltran Leyva cartel.
This would push La Barbie to join its fight against los Zetas by joining the Sinaloa Cartel , Gulf Cartel and La Familia Michoacana in their bid to exterminate the Zetas in Mexico. Cartels have grown tired of bad press linking them with bank robbers , kidnappers and rapist , thus deciding to end groups like los Zetas that have negative views from most Mexicans that believe citizens and families should not be targeted in drug wars.
The violence in that region, including a running series of gunbattles, is believed to be the result of yet another dispute between drug gangs. The Zetas - a gang of hitmen led by army deserters who once worked for the Gulf cartel - have apparently split with that organization, which in turn reportedly allied with the powerful Sinaloa cartel.
Calderon has dispatched tens of thousands of soldiers to fight the cartels, but recently acknowledged the offensive needed to include social programs as well.
On Tuesday, the government announced 700 million pesos ($52 million) in funding for housing, day care and anti-poverty programs in Ciudad Juarez, a city on the border with Texas that has been wracked by violence.