HomeNewsBriefColombian Soccer Team Tries to Break from Narco Past
BRIEF

Colombian Soccer Team Tries to Break from Narco Past

COLOMBIA / 26 SEP 2012 BY CLAIRE O NEILL MCCLESKEY EN

A Colombian soccer team announced that it may give up two titles won while the club was owned by a drug trafficker in the 1980s, drawing attention to the long and sordid history of ties between professional soccer and organized crime.

In an interview with Caracol Radio, the president of the Millionarios, a Bogota soccer team, said that the club’s board of directors is considering giving up their last two league titles as part of an effort to clean up the team’s image and break ties with the past. According to Semana, this is the first time that a president of a Colombian soccer team has openly admitted to ties with drug trafficking groups.

The titles were won in 1987 and 1988 while the club was owned by Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha, alias "El Mexicano," a former leader of the Medellin Cartel who financed numerous paramilitary groups in the 1980s. The team has won 13 league titles in total, but none since the 1980s.

Interior Minister Fernando Carrillo expressed his support for the proposal via Twitter and urged other clubs to follow the Millionarios’ example, reported W Radio. Several members of Congress called on other soccer teams to investigate past links to organized crime.

InSight Crime Analysis

Colombian soccer has a long history of ties to the drug trade. Beginning in the early 1980s, kinpins like "El Mexicano," the Rodriguez Orejuela brothers (leaders of the Cali Cartel), and Pablo Escobar financially supported local clubs or even became team owners. Towards the end of the decade, several referees were kidnapped or assassinated.

Most recently, a drug trafficking organization made up of a “board of directors” of powerful capos, including the recently arrested Daniel “El Loco” Barrerra, used various Colombian minor and major league soccer teams to launder up to $1.5 billion. Authorities discovered the scheme after investigating the finances of Bogota soccer club Santa Fe, leading to the arrest of the cartel’s chief financial operative, Luis Agustin Caicedo Velandia, alias "Don Lucho," in 2011.

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

COLOMBIA / 3 JUN 2015

The Colombian military reportedly discovered a synthetic drug laboratory belonging to guerrilla group the FARC, which, if true, would indicate…

COLOMBIA / 5 AUG 2013

Ecuadorean authorities confiscated $3 million in smuggled goods during the first six months of 2013 at a new checkpoint on…

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 13 MAY 2014

Illegal mining, Colombian armed criminal groups and common crime are the three main markets for Ecuador's illegal arms trade, according…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…