Texas-born drug trafficker 'La Barbie' captured in Mexico

Secretaría de Seguridad Pública Photo

Federal police on Monday captured a Texas-born alleged drug kingpin who faces trafficking charges in the U.S. and has been blamed for a vicious turf war that has included bodies hung from bridges and shootouts in central Mexico.

The arrest of Edgar Valdez Villarreal, alias "the Barbie," was the culmination of a yearlong intelligence operation, the Public Safety Department said in a statement. The department said Valdez was captured Monday in the state of Mexico, which borders the capital of Mexico City, but did not offer any other details.

Valdez " the third major drug lord brought down by Mexico's security forces in less than a year " was charged in May in U.S. District Court in Atlanta with distributing thousands of pounds of cocaine from Mexico to the eastern U.S. from 2004 to 2006.

U.S. authorities had offered a reward of up to $2 million for information leading to his capture, and the Mexican government offered a similar amount.

Mexican authorities have said Valdez was battling for control of the Beltran Leyva cartel since its leader, Arturo Beltran Leyva, was killed in a December shootout with marines in Cuernavaca, a city just south of the Mexican capital.

The fight against Hector Beltran Levya, brother of Arturo, had made a battleground of what was once a relatively peaceful pocket of Mexico and brought the drug war ever closer to Mexico City. Their fight has extended westward toward the resort city of Acapulco.

Valdez's capture was Mexican government's latest victory against the crumbling Beltran Leyva cartel.

Two other Beltran Leyva brothers have been arrested under the government of President Felipe Calderon, who had deployed thousands of federal police and soldiers to fight drug traffickers in their strongholds.