Beware the Fierce Bunny Commander!

AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini

Latinos have always had a penchant for awesome nicknames, but the aliases that some of the Mexican underworld's most dangerous men have adopted leave us a little baffled.

Edgar Valdez Villarreal, or Barbie, as he is fondly known, is believed to be the chief hit man for one of Mexico’s most brutal drug cartels. So why does the tough-as-nails assasin respond to Barbie? Because the U.S.-born Valdez has blond, blue-eyed good looks.

Mexican drug traffickers’ nicknames run the gamut from menacing to downright silly. Some reflect the rank one has in the cartel, others are names that have stuck since elementary school, and still others allude to status and reputation, such as the cartel leader known as El Mas Loco.

While many of the traffickers revel in their nicknames, these nom de guerre actually serve crucial purposes. “Nicknames are like a second baptism, a social transformation into the criminal world," Homero Aridjis, author of the novel Hit Men, explains. They also make police work more complicated. Traffickers can hide their identities by using a multitude of nicknames. Sorting out who is who becomes even trickier when the same name is used by more than one person. It also makes prosecution tough, since gang members who become protected witnesses often know their comrades only by their nicknames, making it harder to give concrete information.

Here's a sampling of the apodos these tough guys are rocking: Smurf, Monkey, Taliban, Oyster and our personal fave: Bunny Commander.

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