“La Barbie”, Reyez Arzate, “El Rey”: who is the witness that will sink García Luna?

Federal prosecutors will call an “important witness” to testify in the trial of Genaro García Luna, a former Mexican Secretary of Public Security accused of having ties to drug cartels; It will be next Monday when that character is called to answer questions.

By Jesus Garcia

New York, February 9 (La Opinión).– The federal prosecutors leading the trial Genaro Garcia Lunaformer Mexican Secretary of Public Security, surprised in the Brooklyn-based Eastern District Court by stating that they were in the final stage of the process and that they had a last resort, an “important witness”.

It is officially unknown who that character would be, but given the development of the judicial process, the mentions in court by US agents, as well as cooperating witnesses and a protected witness, there are three possible names.

The following order is alphabetical taking into account the nicknames of possible witnesses, so it does not determine who would be the most likely to be called to testify next Monday.

Genaro García Luna, then Secretary of Public Security, during the event for the International Day to Combat Illegal Trafficking and Drug Trafficking that took place on June 26, 2012 in the Alcazar of Chapultepec Castle. Photo: Rodolfo Angulo, Cuartoscuro


Edgar Valdez Villarreal, aka “La Barbie” was arrested in Mexico in 2010during the period in which García Luna was the maximum head of the Mexican Federal Police, and in the midst of the war between drug cartels.

“La Barbie” was a member of the Beltrán Leyva Organization and, by then (2009), Arturo Beltrán Leyva –who would have had a close relationship with García Luna– had been killed.

Valdez Villarreal was mentioned on several occasions in the trial of Genaro García Luna, including as one of the attendees at the meetings that the former government official of Felipe Calderon had with leaders of different criminal organizations.

“La Barbie” caused a media impact when she smiled the day she was presented to public opinion after her arrest, in addition to having revealed in a letter García Luna’s ties to drug cartels, in exchange for million-dollar payments.

It stands out that a few months ago “La Barbie” left the custody of the United States Bureau of Prisons, something that can happen with cooperating witnesses and protected witnesses, after a collaboration agreement with prosecutors in some case.

In this Aug. 31, 2010 file photo, Texas-born fugitive Edgar Valdez Villarreal, also known as “La Barbie,” center, reacts during his presentation to the media following his arrest in Mexico City. Photo: Alexandre Meneghini, AP.


On February 9, 2022, Iván Reyes Arzate, alias “La Reina”, He was sentenced to 10 years in prisonafter pleading guilty to drug trafficking and conspiring with organized crime, betraying the DEA and Mexican authorities.

The sentence was imposed by Judge Brian Cogan and exceeded the defense request, which requested a maximum of five years for the former commander of the Federal Police Investigation Unit (SIU).

At that time, the prosecutors who handled his case assured that Reyes-Arzate would not cooperate with other judicial processes, but that was left in doubt, since the sentencing documents were sealed and both the prosecutors and the defense had a private discussion with the Judge Cogan about it at the time, as this journalist testified.

“The Queen” acknowledged that she received up to three million dollars in exchange for helping the Beltrán Leyva Organization.

The name of Reyes Arzate has emerged at various times in the García Luna trial, including mentions by prosecutors to establish the alleged criminal organization that the former Mexican secretary would have led from the government, something that began during the Vicente Fox administration.

At García Luna’s trial, FBI agent José Moreno mentioned Reyes Arzate as the commander to whom information was shared on the exact location of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in a failed operation in February 2012, but which the federal police did not arrive on time.

At that time, the “mini-cartel” presumably led by García Luna from the federal government was already protecting the Sinaloa Cartel, according to investigations.

“La Reina” would be the only witness who would have worked closely with the former Mexican official.

Iván Reyes Arzate, who led the Special Investigations Unit of the Federal Police between 2008 and 2016.
Iván Reyes Arzate, who led the Special Investigations Unit of the Federal Police between 2008 and 2016. Photo: Special


Jesús “El Rey” Zambada García was one of the leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel and he was the first to publicly state that he gave millions of dollars directly to García Luna. He did it during the trial of “El Chapo” Guzmán, when the drug trafficker’s defense addressed corruption in Mexico.

In the García Luna trial, the name “El Rey” arose from the first day with the testimony of Sergio Villarreal Barragán, alias “El Grande”, who described how the brother of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada controlled drug trafficking at the Mexico City Airport.

DEA agent Miguel Madrigal also told the jury that “El Rey” Zambada had a close relationship with people close to García Lunalike Édgar Bayardo, who was then commander of the Mexican Police and whom he saw in a video meeting with Zambada.

“El Grande”, who was a member of the Beltrán Leyva Organization, said that when García Luna decided to support the leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel, a war broke out and part of it led to the arrest of “El Rey”, a hands of “El Grande” himself disguised as an element of the judicial police and in collaboration with real agents.

There are names of other characters that are mentioned, including “El Chapo” Guzmán -whom the government has denied several motions-, and even Ramón García Pequeño, also a former police commander who is on the run.

On October 22, 2008, Jesús Reynaldo Zambada – brother of Ismael Zambada, “El Mayo” – was detained by members of the PGR in Mexico. On April 4, 2012, he was extradited to the United States. Photo: Julieta Mora, Cuartoscuro


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