Former Southampton and Portsmouth midfielder Jhon Viafara handed 11-year prison sentence after being found guilty of smuggling two TONNES of cocaine worth £21m into the United States from his native Colombia
- Ex-Premier League footballer Jhon Viafara has been handed an 11-year sentence
- The former Pompey and Saints midfielder was found guilty of drug trafficking
- Viafara, 42, won 34 caps for his country and played for 10 different clubs
- Prosecutors said Viafara ‘used his talents to advance the evil of the drug trade’
Former Southampton and Portsmouth midfielder Jhon Viafara has been handed an 11-year jail sentence after being found guilty of trafficking cocaine into the United States from his native Colombia, according to US prosecutors.
The 42-year-old, who won 34 caps for his country, was sentenced by a federal court in Texas on Wednesday.
Viafara, from Robles, Colombia, last November pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import five kilograms or more of cocaine into the United States, and was extradited north of his homeland in January.
Former Premier League star Jhon Viafara has been handed an 11-year prison sentence
He had been accused of importing two tonnes of cocaine into the States, which equates to a staggering £21million.
Prosecutors said that the former Saints and Pompey star conspired with members of the Gulf Cartel to send cocaine shipments from Colombia on speedboats to Mexico, which ultimately arrived in the States. He had been under investigation for three years.
‘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.
The ex-Saints and Pompey midfielder was found guilty of drug trafficking offences this week
The Colombian was extradited to the United States in January to face the charges in Texas
‘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.’
Viafara played for 10 clubs during his career, including Premier League sides Portsmouth and Southampton. In 2004, he helped Colombian team Once Caldas win the Libertadores Cup – South America’s top club competition.
He made headlines earlier this year after Colombian police released images of him at Bogota’s international airport being escorted to a small jet headed for Texas.
Prosecutors said the ex-footballer ‘used his talents to advance the evil of the drug trade’
The ex-midfielder, whose alias is ‘El Futbolista’, spoke to reporters before boarding the plane to the States of his time behind bars.
He said: ‘I used to share a changing room with Messi, but now I’m having to share a room with somebody who has been at war in our country.’
He also played for several Colombian club teams and the national team, as well as LaLiga side Real Sociedad, before retiring in 2015.
Colombia’s booming cocaine trade has sometimes lured football stars who in retirement struggle to maintain the lifestyle they grew accustomed to in their playing days.
Last February, former Colombia national team defender Diego Leon Osorio was convicted for distributing narcotics.
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