American-born Mexican drug cartel leader Edgar (El Barbie) Valdez was sentenced to 50 years in prison and ordered to forfeit close to $200,000,000 in cash from his criminal operations in federal court out of Atlanta this week. The 44-year old Valdez, who used to be a bodyguard for the world’s biggest drug lord of the New Millennium, Joaquin (El Chapo) Guzman — currently incarcerated in New York awaiting trial — pled guilty in his case and has been in custody since 2010. The man nicknamed for his resemblance to a character from the Barbie Doll franchise universe was extradited to the United States in 2015.

Valdez was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, where he was a high school football star before dipping into the world of high-end drug dealing. Beginning his career in the underworld as local marijuana kingpin, he fled the U.S. in the late 1990s upon being indicted in a major drug conspiracy case and went to work for El Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico’s Sinaloa region, handling affairs in the area surrounding the Gulf of Mexico. He was responsible for the smuggling of roughly 2,000 kilos of cocaine a month into the U.S. which he brought in and distributed across the country in tractor trailers.

When the seven Beltran-Leyva brothers decided to break off from the Sinaloa Cartel and start their own narcotics conglomerate, Valdez joined them and headed an enforcement unit known as “Los Negros.” While living in Mexico, he met and married the daughter of fellow drug world figure Carlos (El Charro) Montemayor.

After Beltran-Leyva Cartel boss, Arturo (Botas Blancos) Beltran-Leyva, was killed in a shootout with federal authorities in 2009, Valdez squared off against his brother, Hector (El Ingeniero) Beltran-Leyva, for control of the organization in a bloody power struggle that resulted in hundreds of slayings. Valdez became notorious for videotaping murders, decapitations and torture sessions and circulating them as an intimidation tactic.

There are currently two Hollywood films in development trying to chronicle Valdez’s rise and fall for the big screen. In 2011, Legendary Pictures optioned a Rolling Stone Magazine article about Valdez and have attached Charlie Hunnam of Sons of Anarchy fame to the project as El Barbie. Actor Arnie Hammer personally purchased the life rights of Valdez and his family in 2016 and intends on starring and producing in a biopic as well.

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