Wanted Mexican drug dealer arrested en route to World Cup game

RIO DE JANEIRO/BRASILIA Tue Jun 17, 2014 11:38am EDT

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RIO DE JANEIRO/BRASILIA (Reuters) - A suspected Mexican drug trafficker was arrested in Rio de Janeiro on Monday night as he waited to board a plane to Fortaleza where he had tickets for Mexico's World Cup game against Brazil, police said.

They said Jose Diaz Barajas, who is wanted on suspicion of trafficking methamphetamine to the United States, was arrested by Brazilian police on a warrant from Interpol and will remain detained until a judge decides on a U.S. extradition request.

Mexico play hosts Brazil on Tuesday in a Group A match in the northeastern city of Fortaleza.

"He was low-profile and used real documents to enter the country because he thought that nobody was looking for him," said Luiz Cravo Dorea, head of the federal police's international coordination center. "But we knew he had bought tickets to watch the game."

Brazil has taken pains to ramp up security during the World Cup, with about 100,000 police patrolling the 12 host cities complemented by nearly 60,000 soldiers.

Dorea said at a news conference on Tuesday that agents had followed Diaz Barajas since he crossed the border from Paraguay on June 11 but delayed his arrest because they wanted to know if he planned drug deals in Brazil.

"After some days it was clear that he was here to watch the World Cup with his family," Dorea added. "We could have arrested him at the stadium, but it was cheaper to do it in Rio."

Before his arrest Diaz Barajas had being staying at a hotel in Rio's tourist district with his wife and two children, police said.

(Additional reporting by Esteban Israel; Editing by Grant McCool)

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