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American Greed: How drug lord La Barbie’s father-in-law headed his U.S. cocaine transportation hub

By David Amoruso

Greed can ruin a man. Carlos Montemayor (photo above) left Mexico and came to the United States in search of a better life. He started a trucking company and turned it into a major success. Rather than being satisfied, he decided to partner with the drug lord known as “La Barbie” and head his cocaine transportation and distribution network in the U.S.

Montemayor established his trucking and logistics company in Laredo, Texas, in 1992. It specialized in moving goods across the border from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, and then into and across the United States. Within a short time, he had made his American dream come true. But what if he could make it bigger?

La Barbie

That’s what probably went through his head around 2002 when he got into the business of moving cocaine from Mexico into the United States. He was asked about such business by Edgar Valdez-Villareal, an American who had worked himself up the chain of command in the Mexican drug world. Don’t be fooled by Valdez-Villareal’s nickname, La Barbie, he climbed the ranks so rapidly by getting his hands bloody doing enforcement work for the Sinaloa and Beltran-Leyva Cartels.

300 kilos of cocaine a week

Using his logistics skills, trucks, and distribution hubs, Montemayor was soon moving up to 300 kilograms of cocaine per week to stash houses in Atlanta, Memphis, Tennessee, and other cities in the United States.

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As narcotics moved into the U.S. money needed to move back to Mexico. Montemayor used his trucks to smuggle drug proceeds from the drugs sales back across the border to Mexico – in shipments that carried no less than $1 million cash per load. Montemayor’s transportation network was particularly regimented, disciplined, and efficient, with Montemayor and his lieutenants exercising tight control over the workers and all aspects of the drug trade.

DEA begins listening in

The entire drug trafficking network was pierced by DEA agents who began wiretapping phones used by Montemayor’s workers at a distribution hub in Atlanta. Methodically unraveling the network of conspirators, seizing hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and millions of dollars of cash at a time, agents followed the chain of command of the organization to identify Montemayor, ultimately intercepting the calls in which he tightly controlled activities from Mexico.

Agents then went even further to identify Montemayor’s partner and cocaine supplier: Valdez-Villareal. By this time, Montemayor was much more than just Valdez-Villareal’s partner in crime, he had become his father-in-law after “La Barbie” married his daughter Priscilla. Both men were arrested in Mexico in 2010 and extradited to face trial in the United States in 2015.

Guilty pleas and decades in prison

Valdez-Villareal pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import cocaine, conspiracy to distribute cocaine, and conspiracy to launder money in 2016 and was sentenced on June 6, 2018, to 49 years and one month in prison to be followed by 10 years of supervised release, and ordered to forfeit the sum of $192,000,000.

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After having pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import cocaine, conspiracy to distribute cocaine, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, and conspiracy to launder money on November 14, 2018, 47-year-old Carlos Montemayor, also known as “The Director,” “Licenciado,” and “Fox,” was sentenced on Thursday to 34 years and three months in prison.

"Driven by greed"

“Montemayor came to the United States from Mexico and used his skills, hard work, and the opportunities afforded in this country to build a successful trucking company from the ground up,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. Pak. “However, he was ultimately driven by greed and partnered with Edgar Valdez-Villareal to convert his trucking company into a transportation arm for the Sinaloa and Beltran-Leyva cartels, shipping tons of cocaine and drug money across the United States.”

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