The alleged drug lord known as "La Barbie" and 12 other defendants from Mexico have been extradited to the United States, the U.S. Just Department announced Wednesday.
La Barbie, or Edgar Valdez Villarreal, and Carlos Montemayor "were allegedly high-level members of the Sinaloa and Beltran-Leyva Cartels and were charged on June 11, 2010, in the Northern District of Georgia with conspiring to import and distribute cocaine, as well as conspiring to launder money by transporting drug money from the United States into Mexico," the department said in a release
. "Valdez Villarreal also faces narcotics-related charges in the Eastern District of Louisiana."
In addition, Gulf Cartel capo Jorge Costilla was also transferred to U.S. authorities. He was known as "El Coss," Newsweek reported,
and was caught in September 2012.
These are the first prominent alleged drug lords to be passed to the U.S. since "El Chapo," the Sinoloa Cartel leader Joaquin Guzman, escaped through a mile-long tunnel from one of Mexico's maximum security prisons.
Although Mexico has held back on U.S. extradition requests, CNN reported that El Chapo's
escape may have changed that under the leadership of a new Mexican attorney general, Arely Gomez Gonzalez.
One U.S. official told CNN that the extradition of such high-value cartel henchmen was a signal Mexico understood that things had gone wrong.
CNN said getting La Barbie into the U.S. legal system is important.
"He was known for his ruthlessness, he was one of the cartel’s henchman,” a law enforcement official told CNN. "It’s significant that the Mexicans are letting him go. He’s one of those ‘high value’ guys we never thought they would hand over."
The U.S. plans to send suspects that Mexico wants in return for the 13 men extradited. All 13 have been "long-sought" by the U.S., according to CNN, one for alleged involvement in the murder of an ICE agent in 2011, and others for allegedly involvement in a 2010 killing of a U.S. consulate employee and her husband in Juarez.
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