Former Southampton and Portsmouth midfielder Jhon Viafara has been jailed for 11 years after being found guilty of smuggling two TONS of cocaine worth £ 21 million into the United States from his native Colombia.
- Ex-Premier League footballer Jhon Viafara has been jailed for 11 years
- The former Pompey and Saints midfielder was found guilty of drug trafficking
- Viafara, 42, has won 34 caps for his country and played for 10 different clubs
- Prosecutors said Viafara ‘used his talents to further the evil of the drug trade’
Former Southampton and Portsmouth midfielder Jhon Viafara has been jailed for 11 years after being found guilty of smuggling cocaine into the United States from his native Colombia, US prosecutors said.
The 42-year-old, who won 34 caps for his country, was convicted by a federal court in Texas on Wednesday.
Viafara, of Robles, Colombia, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import five kilos or more of cocaine into the United States last November, and was extradited north of his homeland in January.
Former Premier League star Jhon Viafara has been jailed for 11 years
He was accused of importing two tons of cocaine into the United States, which amounts to a whopping 21 million pounds.
Prosecutors said the former Saints and Pompey star conspired with members of the Gulf Cartel to send cocaine shipments from Colombia on speedboats to Mexico, which eventually arrived in the United States. He had been under investigation for three years.
“The defendant in this case had it all: worldwide fame, wealth and status – despite all this, he chose to use his talents to further the evils of the drug trade,” said acting US attorney Nicholas Ganjei.
The ex-Saints and Pompey midfielder was found guilty of drug trafficking this week
The Colombian was extradited to the United States in January to face charges in Texas
‘Traffickers must take it into account, whoever you are; wherever you live in the world; the United States will prosecute you if you participate in a conspiracy to ship drugs to our country. ‘
Viafara played for 10 clubs including Portsmouth and Southampton from the Premier League during his career. In 2004, he helped Colombian team Once Caldas win the Libertadores Cup – South America’s best club competition.
He made headlines earlier this year after Colombian police released footage of him at Bogota International Airport escorting him to a small plane bound for Texas.
Prosecutors said the ex-footballer ‘used his talents to further the evil of the drug trade’
The ex-midfielder, whose alias is ‘El Futbolista’, spoke to reporters before boarding the plane to the States from his time behind bars.
He said, “I used to share a dressing room with Messi, but now I have to share a room with someone who has been at war in our country.”
He also played for several Colombian club teams and the national team, as well as for LaLiga side Real Sociedad, before retiring in 2015.
Colombia’s booming cocaine trade has at times lured football stars who, after retirement, struggle to maintain the lifestyle they had become accustomed to during their playing days.
Last February, former Colombian national defender Diego Leon Osorio was convicted of distributing narcotics.