Alleged Drug Smuggler Indicted in Atlanta Federal Court

An American-born man alleged to be the head of a Mexican drug cartel was charged on June 11 in an indictment in an Atlanta federal court in a case that a Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman says “strikes directly at the core of Mexican drug cartel leadership.”

The indictment alleges that 36-year-old Edgar Valdez Villareal, born in Texas, belonged formerly to the Mexican Sinoloa drug cartel and is now engaged in vicious in-fighting to establish his own cartel. Villareal and five other persons have been charged with conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine, as well as with money laundering.

Prosecutors began focusing closely on Villarreal in 2008, after a federal wiretap in Atlanta identified him as the source for imported cocaine into the United States over a period of several years. According to witnesses, trucks ending up in Atlanta from Laredo, Mexico, sometimes carried several hundred pounds of cocaine. Court records indicate that the trucks would head back to Mexico with millions of dollars in cash after receiving drug payments.

Villareal’s fight for control of his own drug fiefdom has been described as ongoing and deadly, with authorities stating that mangled and decapitated bodies have been found in Mexico.

The indictment is cited for its aggressive nature and its utility as a strong weapon in combating drug crimes. U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates says that it proves federal prosecutors “are not content simply to arrest and prosecute those in our district who work on behalf of the Mexican cartels to bring cocaine into the United States.”

Related Resource: Associated Press, “Suspected US-born drug smuggler charged in Atlanta” June 11, 2010