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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkEditorials | Issues 

Rolling Stone Exposes American Drug Lord
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September 9, 2011

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - For those of us who live in Mexico or who visit frequently enough to understand the countryís true state of affairs, itís been frustrating (and often excruciating) to see the American media drag Mexicoís reputation through the mud.

Itís common knowledge that Mexico has a drug-related-violence problem in a handful of regions within its massive geography, yet the US media has spent years convincing its citizens that the vast majority of Mexico is too dangerous for travel.

Recently, however, a Rolling Stone article has revealed that itís a pale-skinned American who is responsible for many of the most gruesome acts of violence depicted in countless of the condemning articles written about Mexico.

Edgar Valdez, a drug lord who goes by the nickname "La Barbie," is from a middle-class family in Texas. He is also the only American to every work his way to the top of a Mexican drug cartel, which came to be known as the Independent Acapulco Cartel. Itís reported that at the height of his illicit career, Valdez was responsible for the smuggling of 2 tons of cocaine into America every month.

The story of Valdezís rise to the top would make Tony Montana proud but whatís most interesting about the gruesome escapades La Barbie had to commit in order to steal his throne is that they were accredited in news reports to "Mexican drug lords" and were associated as being part of "Mexicoís drug problem."

Remember when a video surfaced online of a cartel member executing captives tied up on a tarp of black trash bags? It was Valdez who pulled the trigger. His decision to mail the video to the media sparked the narco-movement of publicizing vicious acts of torture and murder in order to intimidate other cartels.

Remember when decapitated bodies were found hanging from a bridge in Cuernavaca? The bodies were put on display as a warning to any Beltran Leyva cartel members who were thinking about joining up with Valdez.

Remember when 20 Mexican tourists were found dead in a mass grave outside Acapulco? It was Valdezís father-in-law (and partner) who mistakenly took the tourists for members of the Beltran Leyva cartel and ordered them killed.

Itís interesting that in virtually all of the articles you read about these atrocities, Edgar Valdez, La Barbie, is never described as being an American. But now, thanks to Rolling Stone, the secret is out.

The question now is: will it change anything? Will Americans start to realize that maybe theyíre not always being given the full picture? Or will this be viewed as just another chapter in the saga of "Mexicoís Drug Problem"?

Author's Note - After I wrote this and before I sent it for publication, a good friend and I had a heated discussion about the worth of both the original Rolling Stone story and my own commentary. My friend (who is a Mexican-American), feels very strongly that despite the fact that Edgar Valdez was born and raised in Texas, he is more Mexican than he is American; therefore, it is irresponsible reporting to insinuate that the US is responsible for or should be associated with his actions.

While I agree that his US citizenship does not place the blame for his actions solely on the US, I do think that the American media's failure to (virtually) ever report the fact that Valdez is American is a perfect reflection of the US's affinity to take no responsibility for the drug-related violence in Mexico.


Chase Buckner is a local writer and entrepreneur who moved to Puerto Vallarta in 2009 after leaving the field of Secondary Education to pursue his love of travel and surf. A self-professed "web geek," Chase spends most of his time online running his blog, Simply Vallarta, managing web-media projects for clients of White Bulldog Media (a company of which he is a co-founder), and writing for Banderas News. Chase's accomplishments in blogging have earned him one of 16 spots in the Mexico Today program* - a government sponsored initiative designed to increase positive awareness of Mexico via social media. Of all his work in Mexico, however, Chase is most known for his animated take on the Safety of Mexico, which reflects his affinity for creating outspoken content designed to spark conversation.

*Note - Although Chase Buckner is being compensated for his work for the Mexico Today program (marked by #MexicoToday), all stories and opinions are completely his own.