World Cup ticket purchase leads to arrest of Mexican drug lord

Dirty Tackle

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Brazliian authorities arrested a long-sought suspected Mexican drug lord as he attempted to board a domestic flight from Rio de Janiero to Fortaleza, Brazil, where Mexico faced Brazil on Tuesday. 

Jose Diaz-Barajas, 49, bought a ticket to the match under his real name. He was arrested at Tom Jobim airport and will remain in custody in Rio until he is extradited to the U.S. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) assisted in the arrest, as Diaz-Barajas is suspected of exporting methamphetamine to the U.S.

[Related: Mexico holds host Brazil to 0-0 draw at World Cup]

“Barajas was one of the most sought traffickers in the United States,” Luiz Cravo Dorea told reporters in Brasilia. Dorea is the head of international cooperation for the Federal Police. 

Jose Diaz-Barajas is no longer on the lam. 
Jose Diaz-Barajas is no longer on the lam. 

The police reported that Diaz-Barajas had entered Brazil from Paraguay on June 11. "He was low-profile and used real documents to enter the country because he thought that nobody was looking for him," he said. "But we knew he had bought tickets to watch the game." 

[Photos: World Cup group stage Ghana vs. USA]

The police were first tipped off by FIFA. He was traveling with his wife and two sons, who are 17 and 29. They did not make the arrest sooner, Dorea noted, because they were waiting to see if he had planned any illegal activity in Brazil.

"After some days it was clear that he was here to watch the World Cup with his family," he told reporters. "We could have arrested him at the stadium, but it was cheaper to do it in Rio."  

A former head of international operations for the DEA told Bloomerberg News U.S. and international security agencies are on alert for drug traffickers at many international sporting events, especially the World Cup and boxing events. 

“A lot of them are big sports fanatics,” Mike Vigil said. “It’s a great time to apprehend these individuals.” 

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