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World Cup ref caught smuggling heroin at JFK Airport

  • AP, Wednesday, September 22, 2010 12:52 AM

Byron Moreno, the Ecuadoran referee who officiated USA-Portugal and the incident-filled South Korea-Italy match at the 2002 World Cup, was arrested and jailed without bail on Monday night after he was caught carrying more than 10 pounds of heroin on his body at New York's Kennedy Airport.

In a complaint filed in federal court in Brooklyn, Moreno “became visibly nervous" during an inspection by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, who felt “hard objects on the defendant’s stomach, back and both of his legs." The objects were 10 clear plastic bags containing more than 10 pounds of heroin.

Moreno is best remembered for sending off Francesco Totti for a second yellow card issued for diving 13 minutes into overtime of Italy's 2-1 loss to co-host South Korea in the second round of the 2002 World Cup.

“I think Moreno already had the [heroin] in 2002, but not in his underwear, in his body,” said Gianluigi Buffon, who played for Italy in goal at the last three World Cups. “Joking aside, when sports people get involved in drug cases, it means they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. It also means they’ve lost the real meaning of the sport, which is also to save kids from the street and various dangers, like drugs."

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