Texan May Hold Vital Info
Nearly two years after he was captured in Mexico, Texas-born drug cartel leader Edgar "La Barbie" Valdez Villareal remains elusive to authorities in his home country. The 38-year-old Valdez, born and raised in Laredo, remains held in a Mexican prison while U.S. officials seek his extradition here. One of the reasons American investigators are so eager to get a hold of Valdez is because of the treasure trove of information he has on the various cartels, their activities, and the botched U.S. gun-running operation Fast and Furious.
Texas State Representative Aaron Pena (R-McAllen) is particularly anxious to get info from Valdez and other captured cartel figures, since Pena's district sits directly along the Mexico border. "The violence that's occurring in Mexico is serious, and the United States needs to take a serious approach to the problem," Pena tells KTRH. He sees the effects of cartel violence firsthand. "We read the same stories that are read in Houston and other areas of Texas, but we actually know, or know people who know, these families" affected by the violence.
It remains to be seen what information Valdez has or if he would even be willing to divulge it, but if U.S. authorities can secure his extradition, they almost certainly would offer some sort of leniency in exchange for valuable info. Pena would like to see that happen. "You have to consider the source," he says. "Whatever he says is always gonna be taken with a grain of salt, but if he's able to present some facts that are confirmable, I think this is definitely something to look into." Recent reports suggest that Valdez may have key info that can aid in the Fast and Furious investigation. Pena thinks that alone makes it worth pursuing. "We have a number of Mexicans that come and go here on the border, and we've heard the rumors," he says. "But this is the first time that anybody has confirmed a rumor."