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Drug traffickers using World Cup merchandise to help smuggle cocaine

June 28, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Drug traffickers using World Cup merchandise to help smuggle cocaine

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The method of using World Cup merchandise to smuggle cocaine around the globe exemplifies a longstanding relationship between drug trafficking and soccer, widely considered the world’s most popular sport.

Fourteen cocaine-doused shirts resembling the Colombian national soccer team’s uniform were confiscated by Colombian authorities at the international airport in Bogotá on June 22nd.

Colombian officials revealed that drug smugglers had soaked roughly 5 kilos of liquid cocaine into the shirts that was being sent to the Netherlands, The Business Insider reports.

Once it arrived, the intention was to extract the cocaine and convert into a powder before distributing the drugs.

This week, Argentine officials also seized several kilos of cocaine hidden within model World Cup trophies in Buenos Aires.

Drug trafficking organizations are extremely innovative, and it is not shocking that they are taking advantage of the World Cup to distribute their product. Big, international events such as soccer championships and the Olympics are an excellent opportunity for traffickers to hide illegal drugs within the flow of merchandise and swarms of attendees.

At the same time, soccer more broadly has had a long history with trafficking, ranging from smuggling operations to higher-level criminal conspiracies.

Colombian traffickers’ relationship to the sport can be traced to the 1980s, which was the prime of the Medellín and Cali Cartels. Both groups reportedly financed various clubs in Colombia and used them to launder profits made from cocaine distribution.

Argentina’s most infamous soccer fans, the “barras bravas,” have also long been associated with drug crimes. Several have been accused of drug dealing, and of having ties to drug trafficking groups.

Along with abusing the sport’s merchandise, some smugglers have used soccer as a cover to establish international trafficking operations.

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