ATLANTA – The US Attorney announced on Wednesday that 13 defendants – including Edgar "La Barbie" Valdez-Villarreal and Carlos Montemayor Gonzalez – have been extradited from Mexico back to metro Atlanta to face charges related to money laundering and importing drugs.

Valdez and Montemayor are believed to be high-level members of the Beltran-Leyva drug Cartel. They were arrested in Mexico on the Atlanta area charges in 2010.

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Valdez, an American citizen, is nicknamed "La Barbie" after his fair skin and light blonde hair. Don't let the nickname fool you. Valdez is accused of being a top-level enforcer.

"It's a huge deal that they have been returned to the United States to face charges in this case," said former U.S. Attorney Bill Thomas, who was the lead prosecutor five years ago when the original indictment was filed.

"Our goal was to identify the top folks on the food chain and to bring those folks to justice," Thomas said. 

Valdez and Montemayor are accused of supplying tractor trailer trucks full of cocaine from Mexico to the eastern United States on behalf of the Sinaloa and Beltran-Leyva cartels. They were indicted in the northern district of Georgia in June, 2010 with conspiring to import and distribute cocaine as well as conspiring to launder money by transporting drug money from the US into Mexico. Valdez is also indicted in the eastern district of Louisiana on drug-related charges.

"Valdez and Montemayor are charged with leading the efforts for a top Mexican cocaine cartel with sending drugs into the United States while funneling millions of dollars in cash back into Mexico," said US Attorney John Horn in a statement. "Given Atlanta's status as a distribution hub for the Mexican cartels, this case demonstrates our commitment to work internationally and include the cartels' leadership in our cases."

The extraditions are tied to high-level discussions between the attorneys general of both the United States and Mexico begun earlier this year.

"Today's extraditions would not have been possible without the close collaboration and productive relationship with the Department of Justice enjoys with officials at the highest levels of law enforcement in Mexico," said US Attorney General Loretta Lynch. "I am grateful to our Mexican counterparts not only for their assistance with this important matter, but also for their extraordinary efforts and unwavering partnership in our ongoing fight against international organized crime."