Juarez Cartel Operator a Player in International Soccer Deals

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A convicted financial operator of Mexico’s Juárez Cartel is also the legal representative of a firm involved in the buying and selling of European soccer players.

The first part of this investigation documented how Rodolfo David Dávila Córdova, who was sentenced for having been the financial operator of the Juárez Cartel, obtained a government contract in 2013 for 207 million mexican pesos as the legal representative of Grupo Comercializador Cónclave. (See part one of the series here.)

A second contract from the same federal program, the National Crusade Against Hunger, was awarded to Prodasa SA de CV for 188 million mexican pesos. Dávila Córdova is the majority shareholder in that company.

This article was originally published by Artistegui Noticias in collaboration with CONNECTAS and the International Center for Journalists. It was translated, edited for clarity, and reprinted with permission, but does not necessarily reflect the views of InSight Crime. See the Spanish original here.

But this investigation has uncovered another startling truth about Dávila Córdova’s Grupo Comercializador Cónclave: it is involved in the hugely lucrative arena of professional soccer in Europe. 

Reports submitted by the Portuguese club Porto to the country’s financial regulator show the participation of Cónclave as an intermediary in the dealing of European soccer players.

“During a six-month period that ended on December 31, 2012, the entities Northfields Sports BV, Grupo Comercializador Cónclave SA, and the agent Giancarlo Uda provided brokerage services,” states one of the reports shared with the investors of the Porto soccer club.

The financial report states that during the period in which Cónclave acted as an intermediary (July 2012 – December 2012) Porto added to its roster Mexican national Diego Reyes from Club América, as well as the Colombian nationals Jackson Martínez and Héctor Quiñones, who played for Club Jaguares of Chiapas, Mexico, and the Asociación Deportivo Cali in Colombia.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Soccer and Organized Crime 

The report from the Portuguese club does not state which of these player transfers Grupo Comercializador Cónclave helped move to Europe. Nonetheless, during this investigation, it became clear that Northfields Sports was the brokerage company that managed the transfer of Diego Reyes to Porto for 9,092,320 euros. 

And the Mexican agent Guillermo Lara participated in the transfer of Jackson Martínez. Lara made a multi-million dollar deal with the transfer of Jackson, since the player cost him $100,000 and he was sold from the Jaguares in Chiapas to Porto for 9.6 million euros.

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In its 2012 year-end report, Porto explains that the additional charges related to the sale of players ($750,000 in the case of Jackson Martínez) correspond to several different expenses, including what the brokerage companies charge.

In the financial report for the first trimester of 2013, Porto still had Grupo Comercializador Cónclave in its portfolio of brokerage companies.

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But in 2014 and 2015, Cónclave no longer appeared in the financial documents of the Portuguese soccer squad.

Jackson Martínez began playing in Mexican soccer leagues in 2010 with the Jaguares of Chiapas, where he stayed for two-and-a-half years and registered a record 33 goals. He was transferred to Porto in July 2012. The acclaimed soccer player was just 25 years old when he moved to Europe.

The same month that he was transferred, the Colombian radio station RCN and Mundo Fox from the United States aired an investigation that said that Guillermo Lara, the promoter of the Colombian player, had links to drug trafficking. 

The investigation, based on documents seized by the Attorney General’s Office belonging to an alleged member of Colombia’s Norte del Valle Cartel, also said that drug kingpins, paramilitaries, and Colombian guerrillas had invested in Mexican soccer between 2003 and 2006.

The documents show million-dollar payments to professional Mexican soccer teams and businessmen involved in the sport, including Carlos Ahumada and Guillermo Lara.

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The investigation found that Lara had benefited from several payments that originated from drug traffickers. Following the publication of the investigation, Lara denied any link to drug cartels.

“They are not accusations. To me they are stupid,” Lara said in August 2012. “These people are not professionals, they have no ethics and write any old lie. The deal involving Colombia was Jackson Martínez’s, who, as you all know, I have just sold to Porto. These are the deals that I do.”

Lara has been linked to drug trafficking operations and individuals with ties to the Juárez Cartel. In February 2014, Tirso Martínez, alias “El Tío,” was arrested in León, Guanajuato. Martínez was an associate of Amado Carrillo Fuentes, alias “The Lord of the Skies,” the former head of the Juárez Cartel who died in 1997. Mexican newspaper Reforma revealed at the time that Martínez had been identified by a witness in the United States as a “member of a network that laundered money by transferring Colombian players in partnership with Promotora Internacional Fut Soccer, owned by Guillermo Lara.”

In the early 2000s, Martínez was also accused of laundering money through the soccer teams Querétaro, Irapuato and Celaya.

Guillermo Lara and his business Promotora Internacional Fut Soccer had already been investigated over a decade ago by the Attorney General Office’s division for specialized investigations against organized crime. The prosecutor’s unit opened a preliminary investigation titled PGR/UEDO/080/2001 to establish the presumed relationship between Lara and the Colombian drug trafficker, Jorge Mario Ríos Laverde, a prisoner in the United States.

When he was captured in October 2002, Ríos Laverde was traveling in a BMW truck belonging to Guillermo Lara.

Suspicion surrounding Lara grew when in July 2003, the soccer player Carlos Álvarez Maya was arrested in Mexico City’s international airport, where he was trying to travel to Colombia with a million dollars in cash. The player was represented by Lara’s Promotora Internacional Fut Soccer.

*This article was originally published by Artistegui Noticias in collaboration with CONNECTAS and the International Center for Journalists. It was translated, edited for clarity, and reprinted with permission, but does not necessarily reflect the views of InSight Crime. See the Spanish original here.

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