HomeNewsBriefHow Narcos Use World Cup Mania to Smuggle Cocaine
BRIEF

How Narcos Use World Cup Mania to Smuggle Cocaine

ARGENTINA / 22 JUN 2018 BY COLOMBIA INVESTIGATIVE TEAM EN

The use of World Cup merchandise to smuggle cocaine around the world points to a longstanding relationship between drug trafficking and soccer, one of the world’s most-loved sports.

Fourteen cocaine-soaked shirts styled like the Colombian national soccer team's uniform were seized by Colombian police at the international airport in the capital Bogotá on June 22.

Authorities said traffickers had dissolved approximately 5 kilograms of liquid cocaine into the shirts that were headed for the Netherlands. Upon arrival, the drug was to be extracted and transformed into a powder prior to distribution.

This week, Argentine authorities also discovered several kilograms of cocaine hidden within replica World Cup trophies in Buenos Aires, Clarín reported. The drugs appeared to be intended for local sale.

InSight Crime Analysis

Drug trafficking groups are highly innovative, and it is not surprising that they are taking advantage of the World Cup euphoria. Big, worldwide events such as soccer tournaments and the Olympic Games are a good opportunity for traffickers to conceal illegal drugs amid the flow merchandise and swarms of travelers.

At the same time, the sport of soccer more broadly has had a long relationship with drug trafficking, ranging from smuggling operations to higher-level criminal schemes.

Colombian traffickers’ relationship to soccer can be traced back to the 1980s, the heyday of the Medellín and Cali Cartels. Both cartels are said to have financed various clubs in Colombia and used them to launder substantial profits derived from cocaine trafficking.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Soccer Crime

Argentina’s most notorious football fans, the “barras bravas,” have also long been tied to drug crimes. Several have been accused of drug dealing, and of having relationships with drug trafficking gangs.

In addition to abusing the sport's paraphernalia, some traffickers have used soccer as a cover to set up international trafficking rings.

Today, InSight Crime believes that soccer matches are also a favoured meeting place for drug traffickers, particularly the “Invisibles” -- powerful crime bosses who hide in broad daylight.

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

AUC / 9 AUG 2016

By the end of 1993, Pablo Escobar was cornered. The cocaine king -- known as "El Patrón" -- was running…

COLOMBIA / 13 SEP 2011

U.S. authorities indicted one of Colombia's biggest drug lords, Daniel “El Loco” Barrera, on cocaine trafficking charges.

COLOMBIA / 16 OCT 2019

A ring that sexually exploited minors from Venezuela has been dismantled in Colombia, but this only further highlights the vulnerability…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…