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2/26/09

Spanish professional soccer a front for narcotrafficking

Carlos de la Vega. A very naughty boy, it seems

Carlos de la Vega, a professional footballer for Spain's Rayo Vallecano, has been arrested today along with two ex-professionals, Pablo Acosta and Zoran Matijevic (both from Spanish side Hercules) for belonging to a major cocaine smuggling operation with around a dozen other people. In fact Matijevic (a Serbian national with French passport) is the presumed ringleader of the gang. He was also the manager for French side Nice and, embarrassingly, an official F.I.F.A (the world football governing body) agent.

Spanish police have been tracking the gang since mid-2008, apparently. Under the guise of their frequent transatlantic trips to scout for footballing talent in South America, the group has been trafficking cocaine from Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. Today's raid has apparently caught the gang red-handed with a 600kg consignment of cocaine that left Argentina and arrived in Spain via Tangiers. At the time of this post the English-speaking press had not yet worked out a way of getting the name "Hugo Chávez" into their reports which explains the lack of coverage so far.

UPDATE: English language reports are starting to appear. This will make big news in Europe, for sure. Here's the Reuters version.