HomeNewsBriefEight Colombia Soccer Teams Suspected of Ties to Drug Traffickers
BRIEF

Eight Colombia Soccer Teams Suspected of Ties to Drug Traffickers

COLOMBIA / 8 JUN 2015 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER EN

Eight Colombian soccer teams have come under investigation for links to drug trafficking, hinting at a new chapter in the long history of organized crime and soccer in Colombia.

On June 4, Colombia’s Attorney General's office revealed it had opened preliminary inquiries into eight teams for links to organized crime and the laundering of drug money, reported Agencia AFP. A statement from the Attorney General said the investigations are “centered on the ties between these teams and money from drug traffickers,” and are also trying to ascertain if this money was used in player transfers.

According to El Colombiano, the inquiries are still in the stage of collecting evidence, and authorities are seeking to determine if there is sufficient proof to open formal investigations into the teams’ directors for helping criminal organizations launder money.

Of the eight teams implicated, five play in Colombia’s top division: Once Caldas, Aguilas Doradas, Envigado FC, Boyaca Chico FC, and Cortulua. The other three are second division teams: Union Magdalena, Valledupar FC, and Depor FC.

Envigado FC, which is already on the US Kingpin List over alleged money laundering, is suspected of having links with the Oficina de Envigado and Urabeños criminal organizations.

Assistant Attorney General Jorge Fernando Perdomo has said the inquiries are not related to the ongoing FIFA scandal, and that corruption in soccer “has been a recurrent theme for judicial investigations” in Colombia.

InSight Crime Analysis

As Perdomo points out, soccer and organized crime have a long history of intermixing in Latin America, with scandals even touching superstar players such as Pele and Lionel Messi.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Soccer Crime

Professional soccer teams not only provide criminals a means to launder drug money, but to also earn money from match fixing and build up social capital and popular support in local communities.

In the past, famous drug traffickers -- such as Pablo Escobar and his rivals from the Cali Cartel -- owned and financed some of the biggest teams in Colombian soccer. Owning these teams was as much an ego-boosting status symbol as it was an opportunity to launder illegally earned money.

However, in the present case, although five of the teams in question compete in Colombia’s top division they are all relatively small clubs. This raises the prospect that links between drug traffickers and soccer teams in Colombia may have never truly subsided, but instead evolved, with criminals adopting a more low-profile approach driven more by utility than vanity.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

CACHIROS / 27 JAN 2021

Authorities in Honduras have revealed in recent months million-dollar money laundering operations connected to the Cachiros, indicating that vestiges of…

COLOMBIA / 14 JUN 2021

A former FARC leader and veteran drug trafficker has sided with ex-commander Iván Márquez, a move that could prove crucial…

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…