Former Southampton and Portsmouth midfielder Jhon Viafara has been found guilty of trafficking cocaine into the United States.

Viafara, who was capped 34 times for Colombia, was caught trying to smuggle a cache of narcotics into the United States and pled guilty to charges of drug trafficking last year.

Football star jailed for cocaine smuggling

This week, Viafara was sentenced to 11 years in prison by a judge in Texas, and through the trial it became apparent that he was heavily linked with drug cartels.

Viafara stood accused of orchestrating a smuggling operations that involved trafficking more than two tons of cocaine into the United States. His operation allegedly used small fast boats to transport the drug from Colombia to Mexico, from where it was smuggled into the Southern United States.

Tied to infamous Mexican cartel

The former Premier League player has been tied to the infamous Cártel del Golfo, one of the oldest criminal organisations in Mexico, which owes its origins to the United States prohibition on alcohol in the 1930s.

Based in Mexico and sporting ties to criminal organisations across the globe, the Cartel are believed to have dealings in Europe, West Africa, Asia, Central America, South America, and the United States. On top of their drug trafficking effort the Gulf Cartel operates protection rackets, and is behind assassinations, extortions, kidnappings, and other criminal activities.

From Pompey to prison

Viafara played a handful of Premier League matches for Portsmouth in the 2005/6 season before spending a term on loan with Real Sociedad in Spain. He then signed with Southampton for whom he turned out 76 times before he returned to Colombia to play out the remainder of his career.

On 19 March 2019, Viáfara was arrested in Cali, Colombia for drug traffic and cocaine exportation to the United States. After a lengthy process he was extradited to the US in January 2020, where he initially denied allegations of being in the Cartel del Golfo.

“The defendant in this case had it all, worldwide fame, wealth, and stature — despite all of this, he chose to use his talents to advance the evil of the drug trade,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas Ganjei. “Traffickers should take note, no matter who you are; no matter where in the world you live; the United States will prosecute you if you join in a conspiracy to send drugs to our country.”

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Presh JM Reporter

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