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Former DEA Chief of International Operations, Mike Vigil, ruled out that the absence of La Barbie in the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons is due to an administrative error.
“Edgar Valdez Villarreal, aka ‘La Barbie,’ surely is collaborating with the United States authorities as a protected witness because “he has a lot of information” about many people,” said the former Chief of International Operations of the DEA, Mike Vigil after the drug trafficker was listed as released from the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons in the United States.

In an interview with MILENIO Televisión, the former official stated that Valdez Villarreal could be collaborating as a protected witness in federal trials that are still pending in the United States. Unofficially, Vigil opined that the drug trafficker’s collaboration with the authorities could be a way to reduce his sentence, which amounts to 49 years in prison.
“I think he is collaborating with the authorities here in the United States because they are not going to take 45 years off his sentence, that is impossible… I believe that the Bureau of Prisons and the Federal Marshals have him as a protected witness.” 
He recalled that La Barbie was a high-ranking capo in the Beltrán Leyva brothers’ cartel, so he has privileged information about this criminal organization that he could provide in exchange for anticipating his release from prison.
“Neither La Barbie nor other criminals want to die in a prison here in the United States… So they know some cartels very well. For example, he was related to the Beltrán Leyva cartel; He was in meetings with El Chapo Guzmán and other members of the Sinaloa cartel, so he can testify against many people, many officials, he has a lot of information because he was a high-ranking drug trafficker, he was not a gunman… He was a person that he had a lot of knowledge,” pointed out Vigil. 

According to Vigil, among the cases for which La Barbie could contribute as an informant is the one carried out against the former head of the Ministry of Public Security, Genaro García Luna, in addition to other pending trials in US courts. Édgar Valdez Villarreal was arrested in 2010 by elements of the Mexican Ministry of Public Security and was designated by the then president, Felipe Calderón, as one of the most wanted criminals in Mexico and abroad.

“La Barbie” had asked his lawyer, Kent A. Schaffer, to expedite extradition to the United States to negotiate a reduction in his sentence in exchange for offering information. As of September 15, 2015, the date he was extradited to the US along with 12 other drug traffickers, his legal strategy was to reach agreements to obtain a reduced sentence and plead for clemency as a US citizen Tried in the Northern District Court of Georgia, in Atlanta, on January 6, 2016, “La Barbie” pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine, as well as to launder money. La Barbie was sentenced in 2018 to 49 years in prison.