MEXICO CITY — Mexican officials said Saturday they have begun the process to extradite alleged drug kingpin Edgar Valdez, known as "La Barbie" for his fair looks, to the United States on drug trafficking charges.
Valdez, a US national born in Laredo, Texas, is charged in a 2002 indictment in Louisiana for alleged cocaine trafficking, and a 1998 indictment for drug trafficking in Texas.
The bilingual Valdez, 37, was arrested on August 30 in a police raid in central Mexico. Known as a ruthless killer, Mexican officials blame him for scores of murders across the country, especially in the southern tourist resort of Acapulco.
A judge ordered Valdez detained pending extradition, the office of Mexico's attorney general said in a statement.
Valdez was moved to the maximum security prison of El Altiplano, in the central state of Mexico, until the months-long extradition process has been completed, an official with the attorney general's office told AFP.
Valez was a key lieutenant of Arturo Beltran Leyva, who headed the cartel that bears his name and was Mexico's third most-wanted man until he was killed in a military raid in December 2009.
As a head of Beltran Leyva's hit squad, "La Barbie" allegedly engaged in a bloody gang war with Arturo's brother Hector for control of the Beltran Leyva organization.
Since his arrest the Mexican government had not pressed charges, and President Felipe Calderon was forced to deny talk that Valdez negotiated his surrender.
The US State Department had offered up to two million dollars for information leading to his arrest and capture, and Mexican authorities offered 2.2 million dollars.
"La Barbie" is one of six drug lords the government says it has captured or killed this year in Mexico.
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