Former footballer, Jhon Viafara, who played in the Premier League for Southampton and Portsmouth, has been handed an 11-year jail sentence after being found guilty of trafficking cocaine into the United States from his native Colombia.
The 42-year-old was sentenced by a federal court in Texas on Wednesday, April 1, according to US prosecutors.
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.
He had been accused of importing two tonnes of cocaine into the States, which equates to a staggering £21million into the United States.
Prosecutors said that the former Saints 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.
‘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.’
The former Colombia international who retired from football in 2015, played for 10 clubs during his career, including Premier League clubs Portsmouth and Southampton. In 2004, he helped Colombian team Once Caldas win the Libertadores Cup – South America’s top club competition.
During his extradition to the US, the footballer, whose alias is ‘El Futbolista’, told reporters: ‘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.’