In what appears to be a narco consolation prize for fugitive drug lord Joaquín “Chapo” Guzmán, this week the Mexican Attorney General’s Office extradited 13 high profile criminals, among them the notorious kingpin Edgar Valdez Villarreal, better known as “La Barbie.”
Mexican authorities announced the group extradition after a series of high-level meetings between U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Mexican counterpart Arely Gomez.
The U.S. had previously requested the extradition of Chapo Guzmán, just prior to his escape from a Mexican prison. Instead, they’re getting 13 other criminals who were rounded up this week from different maximum security facilities in Mexico and handed over to U.S. agents at the Toluca airport, on the outskirts of Mexico City.
The mass extradition marks a pivot for the Mexican government, which was previously reluctant to process U.S. extradition requests, claiming these criminals had to face Mexican justice first. In January, prior to Chapo’s escape, the former Mexican Attorney General even told the press Mexico would only extradite the drug lord in “300 or 400 years.”
The U.S. was also reluctant to heed Mexico’s extradition requests, as several high-profile Mexican criminals remained hiding in plain sight in the United States. Now, it seems both countries are making an effort to cooperate. It was recently announced the U.S. will also extradite Zhenli Ye Gon to Mexico. The Chinese Mexican businessman is wanted by Mexican authorities since 2007 after a raid in his home uncovered over $200 million in cash, some of it believed to be drug trafficking proceeds.
Below are profiles of the men Mexico sent to the United States to serve out their time in a U.S. prison.
In 2010 Edgar Valdez “La Barbie” Villarreal was captured while wearing one of his signature Ralph Lauren polo shirts. When Mexican authorities paraded him in front of the media, he stood there and smiled. His apparent calm and arrogance made everyone uneasy.
La Barbie, nicknamed such for his blonde, boyish looks and fondness for designer clothes, grew up in Laredo,Texas and was a successful football player in high school. But he soon fell in with the wrong crowd and started dealing drugs. He eventually fled to Mexico to escape justice in the U.S.
He joined the ranks of the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel and formed a death squad known as Los Negros to combat the ultra-violent Zetas. He gained a reputation for being equally brutal; chopping off heads, implementing all kinds of imaginative torture techniques, and employing some of the most brutal Central American gang members in the business.
The drug lord was so full of himself he was allegedly saving money to finance a film about his life.
Prior to his extradition, La Barbie served time in the same prison as fugitive drug lord Joaquín “Chapo” Guzmán.
Jorge Costilla Sánchez, better known as “El Coss,” is an old-school narco and one of the top leaders of the Gulf Cartel who was arrested in 2012.
In the late ’90s, El Coss allegedly participated in a standoff near the border with two DEA agents who were protecting a Mexican informant. Gulf cartel boss Osiel Cárdenas Guillén demanded the U.S. agents hand over the informant, but the DEA refused, reminding him that he would make “300,000 enemies” north of the border if he harmed them. Guillén, El Coss and the convoy of narcos, apparently remembering the massive manhunt that ensued after the Guadalajara Cartel tortured and killed DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in the ’80s, backed down and let the DEA agents go.
Jean Baptiste Kingery
U.S. authorities identify Kingery as a gun smuggler for various Mexican drug cartels. According to the Washington Post, the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) used this U.S. citizen to implement the same tactics seen in the failed operation Fast and Furious.
“During one operation in 2009 and 2010, ATF agents intercepted and marked grenade hulls that Kingery had ordered for shipment to his mother’s home.Then they allowed the parts to be delivered to Kingery, with the goals of eventually proving he was moving the goods to Mexico.”
He was arrested by Mexican authorities in 2011.
Antonio Reynoso, also known as “The Engineer” or “The Electrician,” allegedly conspired to “ship cocaine through a fantastic narco-tunnel between Tijuana and San Diego” in the late ’90s, according to the L.A. Times. During a previous incident in 1993, he attempted to smuggle a large shipment of cocaine concealed in chili pepper cans.
Reynoso apparently taunted U.S. authorities by hiding in plain sight and building a mansion next to the Tijuana-San Diego Border.
Jose Emanuel Garcia Sota
Sota is suspected of killing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata in 2011. The murder sparked the Fast and Furious scandal, an investigation that revealed a failed ATF operation to smuggle weapons into Mexico.
One of those weapons was allegedly used to kill agent Zapata.
Carlos “El Charro” Montemayor, the father-in-law of La Barbie, allegedly worked as a council member of Mexico’s Charreria Federation (charros are known as traditional horsemen in Mexico). His criminal ties were exposed after the capture of La Barbie.
El Charro is wanted by a Federal Court in Georgia on charges of organized crime, drug trafficking and money laundering.
Aureliano “La Changa” Montoya was captured in 2012 in the state of Durango. He allegedly worked for The Zetas and, according to Proceso magazine, slipped through a DEA sting operation in 2011 that netted 14 of his operatives, some $13 million in cash, and a large shipment of heroin in Chicago and Laredo.
Ricardo Valles de la Rosa
According to the Washington Post, de la Rosa was the leader of a cross-border kidnapping gang that is responsible for the deaths of three people linked to the U.S. consulate in Ciudad Juarez.
His alleged gang, known as Barrio Azteca, is accused of kidnapping, extortion and drug trafficking. He was captured in 2010 by the Mexican army.
Alberto Nuñez Payan, known as “Fresa,” was linked to the 2010 killing of a “U.S. Consulate employee, her husband and the husband of another U.S. Consulate employee,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
According to El Paso Times, Fresa was arrested with 35 other members of his Barrio Azteca gang in a 2011 joint sting operation in Southern Mexico and El Paso, Texas.
Julio Cesar Valenzuela Elizalde, also known as “The Pilot,” is wanted by a Federal Court in Arizona on charges of organized crime and drug trafficking.
Luis Humberto Hernandez Celis, known as “El Pack,” allegedly worked with a criminal gang known as “La Linea.” He was captured in 2010 and is accused of committing 11 murders.
Antonio Gonzalez Platas
Gonzales Platas is wanted in Arkansas on rape charges. He faces no charges in Mexico.
Martin Daniel Castillo
Castillo is wanted by a Federal Court in Texas on charges of organized crime and kidnapping.