MEXICO CITY — Federal police on yesterday captured a long-sought, Texas-born alleged gang kingpin who faces drug trafficking charges in the United States and has been blamed for a vicious turf war that has included bodies hung from bridges and shoot-outs in central Mexico.
The announcement was made just hours after the government said nearly 10 percent of the federal police force has been fired this year as part of a campaign to root out corruption.
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 in the state of Mexico, which borders the capital of Mexico City. The statement offered no other details, but included a photograph of Valdez sporting stubble as he kneels on the ground, a police officer’s hand on his shoulder.
Valdez — who was born in the border city of Laredo, Texas, and is the third major drug lord brought down by Mexico’s security forces in less than a year — was charged in May in US District Court in Atlanta with distributing thousands of pounds of cocaine from Mexico to the eastern US from 2004 to 2006.
US authorities had offered a reward of up to $2 million for information leading to his capture, and the Mexican government offered a similar amount.
There was no word from Mexico on extradition.
Mexican authorities say Valdez, 37, has been battling for control of the Beltran Leyva cartel since its leader, Arturo Beltran Leyva, was killed in a December shoot-out.