A wanted Mexican drug trafficker heading to Tuesday’s World Cup game between Mexico and Brazil was arrested as he was attempting to board a flight in Rio de Janeiro.
Jose Diaz-Barajas, who was wanted in the United States on suspicion of trafficking precursor chemicals for methamphetamine production, entered Brazil by land via the Paraguay border on June 11 — presumably to avoid detection at major airports — Brazilian federal police said. He was under surveillance by authorities in Brazil and a judge had issued a warrant for his arrest, police said.
The 49-year-old resident of Guadalajara, Mexico, was taken into custody Monday night while boarding a plane to the city of Fortaleza, site of Tuesday’s 0-0 game between Mexico and the World Cup host nation, police in Rio said. He had apparently met his wife and two children in Rio to make it to the match.
Officials said FIFA confirmed to police that Diaz-Barajas held tickets to the game.
Drug traffickers in Mexico have been known not to shy away from public spectacles when the urge to attend a major event is too great to ignore. Major drug lords are said to find ways to attend concerts, boxing matches, and sporting events.
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the chief of the Sinaloa Cartel, who was captured in February, was known to enter crowded restaurants with crews of gunmen and demand all cell phones from patrons so that he could sit down and have dinner. He would reportedly later return the items and pay everyone’s check.
Diaz-Barajas is expected to remain in federal police custody in Brazil until details of his extradition to the United States are determined, authorities said.
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