World

Interpol Steps Up Its Search For Freddy Rincon

Interpol has stepped up its pursuit of former Colombian international forward Freddy Rincon by issuing a red notice. The ex Napoli, Real Madrid, Palmeiras and Corinthians star is wanted for questioning in Panama over alleged money laundering charges. The International Criminal Police Organization (or Interpol for short) believes that Rincon served as a front man for a Panama based firm that was used by Colombian drug dealers to launder money. The issuing of this latest notice helps their process and allows them to seek the location and the arrest of wanted persons with a view to extradition or similar lawful actions. Rincon, who’s current location is unknown but is believed to be back living in Colombia has stated that he has not done anything wrong and he was surprised by this latest development from Interpol.

Interpol are looking for Rincon in relation to money laundering charges  (Image from Interpol)
Interpol are looking for Rincon in relation to money laundering charges
(Image from Interpol)

Rincon was held previously in Brazil for four months back in 2007 under similar accusations but was eventually released with the Brazilian government archiving the case. The former Colombian international striker who is remembered the role he played in his countrys 1990 World Cup campaign where Colombia were beaten in the round of 16 by Cameroon has told Colombian newspaper Semana that Panama has no evidence against him, much like Brazil. He continued by suggesting the case should be dropped by them as well as by his native Colombia. He has admitted however that he knows convicted drug baron Pablo Rayo Montano from when they were kids back in Buenaventura where they grew up but denied that he ever did business with him.  Don Pablo was Colombia’s biggest drug baron at the time of his arrest in 2006 and was the successor to the late Pablo Escobar. He had been on the run for decades before eventually being caught in Brazil during an unprecedented major international nine country raid that brought his reign of terror to an end. At the height of his powers, Rayo-Montano was dispatching submarines packed with drugs from three islands he owned off the Panama coast which were depositing around 15 tons of cocaine a month on the American and European markets.

Drugs in Rincon’s homeland of Colombia are a huge problem, with Colombia being one of the world’s largest producers of cocaine. Virtually all coca which is used to make the cocaine comes from three countries in South America – Bolivia, Colombia and Peru where conditions are perfect for the growth of the coca bush. These three countries produce billions of dollars worth of cocaine each year, leading to the explosion of vicious drug cartels in the region. These cartels will stop at nothing to continue their production and selling of cocaine and look regularly for new ways to launder the money abroad. Some cartels in Colombia are so big that they have now evolved into right wing paramilitary groups who have fought with government troops since the early 1960’s in what is known as the Colombian conflict. This war continues today with as many as a quarter of a million people having died since it began. In an effort to stop the flow of drugs into their country, the United States of America has started to wade into this conflict more and more over the past two decades with Colombia now its highest receiver of financial aid, money that is used to battle these cartels and destroy the coca plantations.

A Colombian soldier examines a coca plantation  (Image from Getty)
A Colombian soldier examines a coca plantation
(Image from Getty)

48 year old Rincon continues to deny his involvement in such illegal activities and has in the past suggested that the money he invested in the Panama based firm was his and not connected to any drug trafficking in any way. However Colombian media reports suggest that the business and property interests owned by Rincon in Panama are in fact co owned along with Montano. Interpol agrees with this assessment and has since added him to their wanted persons list. Currently the list contains 328 people worldwide, of that 160 being Colombian nationals mostly wanted for drug trafficking or smuggling offences. Rincon has no intentions of giving himself up so Interpol’s search continues. Whilst his whereabouts are unknown, Rincon has surfaced twice in the last few years firstly to sign for Colombian second division side America de Cali back in 2012 ten years after retiring from the game. He then was involved in a car accident in August 2013 in the Valle del Cauca region which required surgery at a local hospital. With both sightings happening in the same area of Colombia, Interpol’s search for Rincon is likely to be centered in this region. However Rincon could be anywhere in the world, possibly even in Argentina as his only son Sebastian plays for Buenos Aires side Club Atletico Tigre. The search continues for Rincon.

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