A former professional soccer player turned Gulf cartel kidnapping specialist was arrested in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, prosecutors said.
Omar Ortiz Uribe, who was a goalkeeper for First Division club Monterrey, is accused of participating in the kidnappings of at least 20 people.
Ortiz Uribe, known as “El Gato” during his playing days, was suspended by the Mexican Soccer Federation for doping during Copa Libertadores matches in 2010.
He was banned from playing for two years, a penalty that was due to expire in April.
Initial reports in the press Saturday said Ortiz Uribe had been abducted, but it came out later that he had actually been arrested on kidnapping charges.
Ortiz Uribe helped the cartel by providing information about potential victims, Nuevo Leon state Security Council spokesman Jorge Domene said.
The kidnapping cell, which had been operating for about a year, paid the soccer player approximately 100,000 pesos ($7,292) per victim.
The majority of the cell’s 20 victims were businessmen whose families paid average ransoms of 1 million pesos ($72,928), Domene said.
Among the gang’s victims was pop singer Gloria Trevi’s husband, who was abducted in October 2011, the state Security Council spokesman said.
“No ransom was paid for the husband of Gloria Trevi” because the kidnappers thought the authorities were giving the case a large amount of attention, Domene said.
Four other members of the cell were arrested along with Ortiz Uribe, but the leader and six other members are at large.