The novel behind the brief arrest of former Real Madrid soccer player Edwin Congo

A Spanish Police informant gave the warning in January 2019 and began the coordinated judicial investigation between the Central Narcotics Brigade of the National Police of Spain and the Colombian Police against a drug trafficking network that a year and a half later has the Colombian former soccer player Edwin Congo. But not only the former player of Real Madrid and member of the television program El Chiringüito, but also another Colombian recognized in the Spanish Jet Set and with a background in Colombia, the doctor Mauricio Vergara, reviewed as the Little doctor or the Surgeon.

(In context: Edwin Congo was arrested in Spain in a drug trafficking operation)

The researchers managed to decrypt the entire route of their shipments. With human and technical sources, in the search for shipping parcels from 500 grams to five kilos, the operation “Torta Ahogada” ended up discovering a well-organized drug access route to Europe to be marketed in Bulgaria, the Netherlands and Spain, which It began in a coca cultivation controlled by the Eln in the rural area of ​​the municipality of Argelia (Cauca), it passed through the El Plata plateau in Putumayo, and that before turning to cocaine in the Old Continent it needed a specialized phase of crime .

The hand of the Pachellys, a well-armed criminal gang from Bello (Antioquia), with an impact and links in Medellín and Bogotá, set up the criminal logistics for the drug to be organized in rented warehouses near the El Dorado airport in Bogotá. The rest was borne by the central group of managers of the drug shipping route to Europe. In the first place, former Police sergeant Milton Afranio Santamaría, also known as the Seven fur, who already had economic power and control of the illicit business, and who sought to regularize his status as a resident in Madrid.

(Read also: This is how the drug trafficking network to which Edwin Congo allegedly belongs worked)

The prosperous farm owner in the surroundings of Pereira, owner of several companies and even promoter of a cycling team, is now detained at the Soto del Real Preventive Center in the Spanish capital, along with his partner on the route Hugo León Mejía, that, according to a source of the Central Narcotics Brigade consulted by El Espectador, in telephone interceptions he was always mentioned as the Teacher. “A respected character in drug trafficking who lived in the accredited northern sector of Madrid, but had moved to an apartment near the Barajas airport.”

Despite his condition, Hugo León Mejía was moving in an old car, which was in the name of a Chinese citizen, and he was seen calm in clothing stores or accompanied by Milton Afranio Santamaría. Both frequently entered the Meraki Clinic, owned by the doctor Mauricio Vergara Castillo, located on Santiago Bernabéu street, just 200 meters from the stadium where Real Madrid plays. The “Torta Ahogada” operation determined that the Colombian professional is involved in the return, as well as an emerald of the same nationality that the authorities know.

Mauricio Vergara Castillo is a character as successful as it is controversial. He was born in 1968 in Barranquilla, but he moved to study at the University of El Bosque in Bogotá, and then he went to Cali, where in 1990 he founded the firm Sport Med, a fitness center that made him a celebrity in the city. In addition to his successful business, he intensified his studies in sports and aesthetic medicine in France, Switzerland and Argentina. He managed to set up a clinic in Miami with other partners, his professional profile grew like foam and then he became famous when he attended the Argentine soccer star Diego Armando Maradona.

(It may interest you: When drugs and tragedy were related to soccer players)

The 1986 world champion had to play the game of his farewell scheduled at the La Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires on November 10, 2001, but he had to go from over 100 kilos to no more than 80 kilos. As he was baptized by the classic Uruguayan narrator Víctor Hugo Morales, he entered the clinic of the doctor Mauricio Vergara in Cali, who later underwent a process that made him ready for his farewell to soccer, in a game where Colombians Óscar Córdoba participated, Pibe Valderrama, René HIguita and Jorge el Patrón Bermúdez.

Everything was going well in the life of the doctor Mauricio Vergara, until December 12, 2002, at the Alfonso Bonilla Aragón airport in Palmira (Valle del Cauca), on Copa agency flight 200 with final destination in Buenos Aires, and After stopping in Panama, he was caught with two kilos of cocaine hidden in a case with a photographic camera, a video camera and a laptop. “That cocaine is not mine, this is a breach of confidence, I was going to Buenos Aires for a job interview with a doctor in an obesity clinic,” was his comment when the finding was released.

However, Mauricio Vergara was sentenced to five years and four months in prison, which were cut when he pleaded guilty. “I assumed responsibility for some acts because I love my family and I think this is the fastest and most sincere way to be with the people I love,” he told the El País newspaper in Cali at that time. Vergara served his sentence in house arrest and was later released. Then he returned to his aesthetic clinic, his family and went to Spain, where he consolidated a credibility that translated into thousands of clients and the extension of his businesses to Marbella and Santiago de Compostela.

In his professional profile it is read that he is a member of the Spanish Society of Aesthetic Medicine and the Colombian Association of Cosmetic Surgery, and that he accredits experience at the Moncloa Hospital, the La Luz Clinic and the Ceram Hospital. Neither more nor less than the authority of botulinum toxin, which in pure words are fillers. In 2013 he married Lola Sopeña, a recognized expert in marketing and advertising, and promoter of the beauty business on the Balearic island of Ibiza. But the matter did not prosper and the doctor continued until he got into trouble again.

(See also: Jhon Viáfara would be part of a drug trafficking network with links to the Gulf Clan)

The emphasis of his explanations has not transcended before Judge Ismael Moreno, who is leading the case in the National Court. But Mauricio Vergara Castillo was one of 18 detainees in the international operation against drug trafficking that has just occurred in the midst of a global emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nine Spaniards, four Bulgarians, three Dutch and three Colombians. Milton Afranio Santamaría, Hugo León Mejía and Vergara himself fell in the raid of the Central Narcotics Brigade of the National Police of Spain.

With them he was briefly arrested and then released the former soccer player of Once Caldas and Real Madrid, the dentist Edwin Congo, who declared in the sports program El Chiringüito, in which he plays a role as a Madrid fan, that he did frequent his that aesthetic clinic, which was also attended by Colombians and Spaniards, but which has no ties to those involved in the “Torta Ahogada” operation. Congo, who played almost his entire career in Spain and after his retirement tried a Caribbean food restaurant in Valencia, is now in the eye of the hurricane.

“They needed my opinion,” was the ex-footballer’s comment, who assured that like every human being he has to earn a living and that he chose the option of doing emerald business with an acquaintance who was involved in the drug trafficking scandal. Surely in his explanation, Congo talks about the diffuse emerald that the Spanish and Colombian police authorities also talk about, without mentioning his name. “It will fall soon, it is dangerous,” says a source in the case who knows that the emerald and gold dealer may be the missing link in this chapter of the mafia.

Among the Spanish detainees, the most high-profile is the businessman Gregorio Sánchez, who, according to authorities, was already under investigation. Based in Colombia, this fruit importer entered the business because his company Frugol was the front for the shipment of more than a ton of cocaine to Europe that led to the international operation in Spain, Colombia, Bulgaria and the Netherlands. Three chemicals resulted from this last nationality, who are said to be involved in the extraction of the cocaine camouflaged in the pressed cardboard of the boxes that transported Colombian pineapples and limes.

(Also read: Global Commission on Drug Policy delivers annual report requesting drug legalization)

On January 31st, the Spanish and Greek authorities seized four containers of the Sánchez fruit in the port of Thessalonica (Greece). From there, the drug was to be transported to Bulgaria, if the Spanish and Greek authorities did not intervene. The investigation, in which Interpol and the DEA participated, managed at that time to capture the four Bulgarians. On March 13, Milton Afranio Santamaría, accused of being the head of the drug trafficking network, flew to Spain to evaluate the seizure of the drug with his people. The Police captured him in Barcelona.

Santamaría arrived in Barajas that day and the Police let him “move”. Then they followed him to the Catalan capital, where he stayed for two days. On his return to Madrid he stayed in the same place as Mejía. When the members of the Police entered they believed that the Colombian drug trafficker had COVID-19, since he had a fever and severe diarrhea. He was instantly sent to a hospital where it was confirmed that he was not infected with the new coronavirus.

“The operation has not concluded,” stresses one of the sources consulted. It seeks, for example, to establish whether there is a connection with the so-called Clan de los Castaña, alluding to the brothers Francisco and Antonio Tejón Carrasco. Although they are more credited with trafficking in hashish from Morocco, investigators are evaluating whether, in their attempt to make the leap to cocaine, they had contact with an intermediary of the targeted organization. A possible connection to the port of Guayaquil (Ecuador), where the drug that ended up in Europe also appeared, is also being examined.

(You may be interested: The infiltration of drug money in my campaign was a national operation: Samper)

There are loose pieces that the researchers want to clarify. As the contribution of 100,000 euros from one of the involved, with many questions for the National Court of Spain. In parallel, for the Colombian Police authorities, to decipher the chess of the logistics coordination from Medellín and Bogotá, where the hand of a certain alias Ánderson gravitates, a loose file of the case that can explain details of the route. The hinge to pass the cocaine from the warehouses near the airport to the planes, because from then on the success was in other Colombians, the Bulgarians and the Spanish.

This story, which began with an informative flash about the brief arrest in Madrid of the ex-soccer player and tertullian of the sports program on Spanish television El Chiringüito, Edwin Congo, has other ingredients that give it the status of a novelon. The hand of the Pachelly, each day more connected with the Clan del Golfo, the Sinaloa cartel and the Envigado Office. A Spanish fruit exporter, a Colombian emerald with no known name, a former police sergeant and his partner leading the way. And a prestigious Colombian beautician, again crossed on the drug trafficking route.

Congo’s defense

The former Real Madrid soccer player from Bogotá pointed out, the week after being mentioned as a member of a drug trafficking network, that he is innocent and has nothing to do with cocaine trafficking to Europe. “I am very calm because I have done nothing. I do not traffic with cocaine, I do not have cocaine in my house, I am in very good health, I behave very well with people and with everyone I can and today has been one more day of teaching and learning, ”said Congo.

After testifying for an hour at a police station, Congo said it has no connection to illegal business. “I am innocent, I have done absolutely nothing to do with the sale or manufacture of cocaine. There is a logical indication, because I am linked to a series of people who are involved there, but that is why I have changed my life or done something extraordinary ”. “I am still the same as always, I will have to know how to measure who I am with and where I want to go,” added the Colombian.

Who are the Pachelly?

For more than a decade, this powerful criminal gang has led organized crime in Bello (Anitoquia). According to the Medellín Secretariat of Security, its members have a seat in the collegiate group of the Envigado Office, the historic criminal organization founded by Pablo Escobar in the 1980s and which brings together the tough on crime in the Aburrá Valley.

According to police reports, this criminal group, founded by the Henao Acevedo family clan, thrives on the extortions and drug trafficking routes that would be related to the Gulf Clan (also known as the Self-Defense Forces of Colombia), a criminal organization led by aliases Otoniel, the man most wanted by the Colombian authorities today. The authorities indicate that this group would have control over illegal mining in Segovia (Antioquia) and would have expanded to municipalities such as Copacabana, Girardota and some sectors of Medellín.

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José David Escobar Moreno / @ JoseDEM18 / [email protected]

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The novel behind the brief arrest of former Real Madrid soccer player Edwin Congo

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