Ex-Premier League star Jhon Viafara jailed for 11 years for cocaine smuggling
Former Premier League star Jhon Viafara has been sentenced to 11 years in jail for smuggling cocaine into the USA.
Viafara, who played for south coast rivals Portsmouth and Southampton, was sent down at a federal court in Texas.
The 42-year-old was extradited to the US in January 2020 and in November pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import 5kg or more of cocaine into the country.
He was accused of being the main man behind the operation, which used speed boats and small planes to transport the drugs into America from Colombia via Mexico.
Viafara had been under investigation by the authorities for three years and goes by the alias 'El Futbolista' – a not to subtle nod to his days as a professional footballer.
Before being ushered 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 football career in his native Colombia and played for Deportivo Pasto, American de Cali and Once Caldas prior to being signed by then-Portsmouth boss Alain Perrin.
He made 14 appearances at Fratton Park under the Frenchman, but found opportunities more limited under Harry Redknapp and was sent on loan to Real Sociedad.
Upon returning to the south coast, Viafara was sold to Portsmouth's fierce rivals Southampton, signing a three-year-deal at St Mary's.
The midfielder made 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.
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