A suspected powerful Mexican drug lord has been arrested on his way to watch his national team play Brazil in the World Cup after booking tickets to the match under his own name.
Jose Diaz-Barajas, 49, was attempting to board a flight to Fortaleza, where Mexico was due to play hosts Brazil on Tuesday night, when he was arrested at Rio de Janeiro’s Tom Jobim airport on Monday.
Fifa had passed on information regarding Diaz-Barajas’s ticket purchases to Brazilian police following an Interpol arrest warrant, said Luiz Cravo Dorea, head of international cooperation at the Federal Police.
“He was low-profile and used real documents to enter the country because he thought that nobody was looking for him,” said Mr Dorea.
“But we knew he had bought tickets to watch the game.”
Diaz-Barajas, who had reportedly entered Brazil overland from Paraguay on June 11, was planning to watch the match with his wife and two sons, ages 17 and 29,with whom he had been staying in a hotel in Rio de Janeiro’s tourist district prior to his arrest.
Mr Dorea said Diaz-Barajas could have been arrested soon, but that Brazilian police had waited to see if he was planning any drug deals in the country.
“After some days it was clear that he was here to watch the World Cup with his family,” he told reporters in Brasilia. “We could have arrested him at the stadium, but it was cheaper to do it in Rio.”
“Barajas was one of the most sought traffickers in the United States,” Mr Dorea added.
“He will remain imprisoned in Rio until his extradition to the US is determined.”
Major sporting events are frequently used to catch powerful criminals who cannot resist the opportunity to watch their favourites teams and sportsmen, a former US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) chieftold Bloomberg.
“A lot of them are big sports fanatics,” Mike Vigil said. “It’s a great time to apprehend these individuals.”
Diaz-Barajas is accused of producing methamphetamine for export to the United States.