Argentine soccer superstar Lionel Messi’s face is commonly seen on sports advertising around the world, but on Thursday the athlete's image has unofficially appeared on more than 3,000 pounds of Peruvian cocaine.
In a drug bust, officials in the port city of Callao, Peru, found over 1,200 cocaine bricks branded with Messi’s own stylized “M” logo hidden inside a container of frozen seafood, with photos showing how many packages were stuffed inside frozen fillets of giant squids.
The 3,000-pound shipment due to be transported to Belgium was estimated to have a street value of a staggering around US$85 million. Other packages that were seized included the official coat of arms of the King of Spain. The logos were thought to be used to indicate the quality of cocaine.
Peruvian police made it clear that neither Messi nor Spanish royalty had any connections to the shipment. The Argentine and Barcelona icon already has a number of large sponsorship deals across the world and was second on Forbes list of highest earning athletes from 2016.
The seizure follows a January bust by Peruvian authorities where a massive two tons of cocaine was stashed inside asparagus cans. Peru is regarded the world's largest second largest producer of cocaine behind Colombia, where the majority is shipped to Europe and the U.S.