Before his recent arrest, Edgar Valdez Villarreal, nicknamed "La Barbie," left behind a stable Texas family and allegedly became one of Mexico's most feared drug leaders.
Authorities in the United States and Mexico say that the former high school football player moved to Mexico after being indicted in the 1990s on charges of dealing marijuana.
They believe Villarreal, now 37, went on to become a violent leader in the Beltrán-Leyva gang, which is known for ongoing battles with other cartels.
Valdez Villarreal has been indicted in U.S. district court on charges he distributed thousands of pounds of cocaine. The Times reported that he is the only American citizen known to have gained that high of a position within the Mexican cartels.
The quality of his upbringing – an emphasis on church and college from a hard-working father – clicked with Valdez Villarreal's siblings. Most of them heeded their father's guidance by attending college and starting businesses.
Photo: The Valdez-Villarreal family home in Texas
Abel Valdez Jr., who studied criminology and now works for the Texas state government, said his younger brother simply chose another path.
"He chose his path," said Abel Valdez Jr. "I'm not saying he's an angel. He's done things that are not legally correct, but he has principles. We are a good family."
In a more recent interview with Excelsior's Pierre-Marc René, Abel Valdez Jr. went on to say despite the accusations and drug-related charges against him, his brother, Edgar, is innocent.
"They say a lot of bad things about my brother, but they haven't proven anything," said Abel, who lives in the Texas with the family of Edgar.
According to Abel Valdez Jr., his brother is being forced by police to make false statements.
In an interview with this newspaper, he declined to give information over the phone that could be used in attempts to build any type of profile of his brother.
However, he criticized the Mexican authorities, which he said are torturing Edgar Valdez Villarreal.
- How are you and your family handling Edgar's arrest?
"We're going about our lives. What do you want us to do?"
- What was your brother's childhood like?
"The information about my family is in the newspaper" (Valdez Jr. referred to a report by The New York Times, which gave an interview.)
- We want to know if the information published is correct.
"Of course none of what was published is false. Why don't you investigate what happens in Mexico, the police and torture? Why not follow up on what they are doing to my brother?"
- Do you think your brother was tortured?
"What do you think? If I were to be asked, in my opinion, yes, he was tortured. Why not ask the police why they tortured him. Obviously they're not going to say anything until a lawyer is present. A person is innocent until judged. That is the law. Obviously there was torture, physical.....or mental. Do you think there wasn't?
Why dont you go to the police and ask them why he said what he said? That would be a good topic, wouldn't it? Everything my brother said was untrue. It was all untrue."
- We want to know about Edgar Valdez before he became involved with drug trafficking.
"How do you know he was a drug trafficker? Because of what others have said? Because of the accusations against him?"
- There is very little information about him, Sir.
"If you come here I'll give an interview face to face and answer all your questions, but by telephone, I'm not going to say anything. If you come to the U.S., I will gladly give you the interview."
The Attorney General (PGR), Arturo Chavez Chavez, announced today Valdez Villarreal has reserved his constitutional right to silence.
Additionally the PGR reported all previous statements made by Valdez Villarreal during federal interrogations, on and off camera, have been deemed legally invalidated and inadmissible in a court of law due to the fact they were effected without the presence of legal counsel.
Sources: New York Times, Excelsior, aldiatx.com, El Norte