An ex-Premier League star has been sentenced to 11 years in jail for cocaine smuggling in the United States of America according to reports.
Jhon Viafara, who played for south coast rivals Portsmouth and Southampton in the mid-2000s, was sent down at a federal court in Texas.
The 42-year-old was extradited to the US back in January 2020 before pleading guilty in November to conspiracy to import 5kg or more of cocaine into the country.
He was accused of being the leader behind the operation, which used speed boats and small planes to get the drugs into America from Colombia via Mexico.
For three years, Viafara had been under investigation by the authorities and goes by the alias ‘El Futbolista’.
‘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.’
Before being placed onto a flight to Texas in handcuffs last year, he said: “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.”
Viafara began his professional footballing career in his native Colombia and played for the likes of Deportivo Pasto, American de Cali and Once Caldas.
He was then signed by then-Portsmouth boss Alain Perrin, making 14 appearances at Fratton Park under the Frenchman, but failed to get as much game time under Harry Redknapp and was sent on loan to La Liga club Real Sociedad.
When returning to the south coast, Viafara was sold to Portsmouth’s fierce rivals Southampton, signing a three-year-deal at St Mary’s Stadium.
The midfielder went on to make 76 appearances for the Saints, scoring five goals, but returned to former club Once Caldas in 2008 after feeling homesick.
Viafara also made 34 appearances for his country and appeared for Colombia at both the 2014 and 2017 Copa America tournaments.
Jhon Viafara career
1999 – Deportivo Pasto – 44 games (2 goals)
2000–2001 – América de Cali – 37 games (0 goals)
2001–2002 – Deportivo Pasto – 18 games (0 goals)
2002–2005 – Once Caldas – 114 games (9 goals)
2005–2006 – Portsmouth – 14 games (1 goal)
2006 → Real Sociedad (loan) – 11 games (0 goals)
2006–2008 – Southampton – 76 games (5 goals)
2008–2009 – Once Caldas – 49 games (3 goals)
2010 – La Equidad – 35 games (5 goals)
2011 – Atlético Junior – 4 games (0 goals)
2011 – Deportivo Pereira – 17 games (4 goals)
2012 – La Equidad – 19 games (4 goals)
2012–2013 – Independiente Medellín – 35 games (2 goals)
2013–2014 – Deportivo Cali – 43 games (0 goals)
2015 – Rionegro Águilas – 5 games (0 goals)
Total – 521 games (35 goals)
2003–2010 – Colombia – 34 games (1 goal)
Fans reacted as the ex-Premier League star is sentenced to 11 years in jail…
@dunnlululily101: I was there when he scored the equalizer against derby in the play off semi finals. Me and my late father never celebrated as much. Amazing moment, which I’ll never forget. Shame he must have fallen on hard times after football to do something so stupid and reckless 🙁
@MathewMraz: Derby away 🤯
@Jam0SFC: What a fucking man
@Hart0071Paul: Another party ruined…..
@JamieSparksGB: Club Legend, what a man UTS
@sfckieran: Saw Le Tiss’s legacy after retirement and bested him
@T_2292: Bloody hell 😂 #SaintsFC
@saintbannerman: I still sing “do do doooooo…..” and both my kids still finish it off with his name.
@danyeandle: How has he shared a changing room with Messi?
@pearcematt: No Viafara, No Party #SaintsFC
@NickMurphy1995: Wonder if he’s still sorry he ruined the party?
@JWsznn: yep sick ofc it’s a former saint
@HackedOffStuart: Should also be charged for his atrocious spelling.
@MattSmithSFC: Party ruined 🙁
@Nick_SO19: Jhon Viafara
has ruined the party,
got himself nicked
with all our Charlie #SaintsFC
@MikeyJJordan: I’m guessing not much difference between a Colombia jail and living in Southampton
@PFCjohnny: He was such a poor footballer he must have been on the gear when he was playing for us
@aducky84: Oooooof not great.
@SteveJT67: Tbf he played for scum, so 11 years for that looks like he’s got off lightly
@MichaelKelly35: 20 stretch for the boy PUP
@chanchester: Well he’s doing well since retirement 😂
A friendly reminder that ‘crime doesn’t pay’! 😳🤦🏻♂️ https://t.co/trpwNUr01A
— Total Saints Podcast (@TotalSaintsPod) April 4, 2021
— Ollie (@ScummerOllie) April 3, 2021