Two days after announcing the extension of his contract with the I raised Until 2023, Toño left Valencia early for what he thought was a procedure in Teruel, and ended up sleeping in jail. He warned the club that he would miss the session on Friday, February 8, for an issue that did not materialize. Neither did he tell his family, convinced that he would return immediately. In Teruel he was awaited by the investigating magistrate number 3, Jerónimo Cano, who had cited him as being investigated in the framework of some inquiries about an extortion network through a web of contacts. One of the alleged ringleaders was I. B. O., aka Salva, an acquaintance of bars and teterías with whom Toño had strengthened ties in the previous weeks. "He has sinned of being too good a person", says the father of the player, Antonio García, goalkeeper of Valencia in the eighties; "When you are a footballer, there are people who come close to you."
According to judicial documentation to which this newspaper has had access, Salva and the other ringleader, M. F. M., alias Erik, launched an extortion machine through the web www.pasion.com. On that page, which supports the free publication of advertisements and remains active, the researchers believe that Salva and Erik placed claims with "attractive messages and pictures suggestive of girls of company" that worked as bait of encounters that did not get to produce. The numbers of those presumed girls corresponded to prepaid phones bought in call shops in Valencia. When someone established contact with one of the baits using his phone, he became a potential victim.
Then, the ringleaders could start extortion with WhatsApp messages or calls. They asked for money in exchange for not disclosing the use of the page to relatives or acquaintances and they even threatened if they did not agree to the payments. "I'm going to rip your head off," "I'll kill you," were some of the warnings. Since the beginning of the operation Lubido Hezurra in March 2018, the organization had accumulated more than a hundred contacts, among which, according to a note from the Civil Guard, the agents "have been able to accredit around 40 extortionists with whom this criminal group had obtained illicitly about 500,000 euros. " They have located victims in 18 provinces and the judge attributes to Salva "32 crimes of extortion and threats in consummate grade".
The network published on the website www.pasion.com ads that worked as bait to find victims
Among the people who reported extortion is the coach of Alavés, Abelardo, who read on Wednesday afternoon a statement in which he told that he had reported to the Civil Guard and that he had given a statement in court in Teruel. He also asked for respect for a situation that affects the "strictly personal and family sphere" and said that no more data could be provided when the case was found under secret secrecy. The former Sporting de Gijón and Barça player made two payments amounting to several tens of thousands of euros, according to sources familiar with the investigation, which remains open.
What introduces Toño into the cause is a telephone conversation between Salva and Erik, intercepted on January 26, in which they said they had given Toño 10,000 euros to keep, that he owed another 5,000 and that he had more data. Although on February 6, the day it announces its renewal, the Civil Guard interrogates Toño and only finds in his house 4,820 euros. The footballer says he agreed to save the cash because Salva told him he had a gambling problem and did not want to spend it. The judge, however, saw matters to accuse him of money laundering and belonging to a criminal organization. And to order preventive detention.
For him, for Salva, for Erik and for four other men, all from Valencia. When the seven were found behind bars in Teruel, there were reproaches to the alleged leaders of the other five incarcerated. Each in their own way, they felt cheated. Toño, for the favor of money. A. B. F., because he was there when the judge pointed him out for putting in his name a Volkswagen Golf that he bought for Salva.
Two Fridays later, on February 22, the judge sent another 10 men from Valencia to prison: 17 arrested. It was mostly mules, people who allegedly had provided their bank account numbers to the plot for the extorted to enter the money there. In exchange for keeping a part, they received the payment and delivered the bulk to Salva.
Toño spent three weeks in prison, until the appeal of his lawyer, Emilio Pérez Mora, and the Provincial Court of Teruel, with the opposition of the Prosecutor's Office, left him on Friday, March 1 on provisional release, without bail, although still with charges, and with the obligation to appear on the 1st and 15th of each month. The following Monday, the same Prosecutor's Office asked the judge to release eight other people without any measures. They also left.
In prison, Toño remained active. He ran through the playground with the athletic team and visited the gym daily. "He lacks a bit of rhythm and is a little overweight," says his father. This Wednesday he returned to training, after publishing a video the previous day in which he mentioned his imprudence with friendships ("I am a confident person and I have not thought badly of the people") And stressed his innocence:" Everything will be clarified ". Before that, a club record is provided. "We hope he'll play again right away," says his father. While he was in jail, he bought a television for his individual cell, where he followed the semifinals of Copa, listened to the Levante pay-TV on the radio and saw the one that was broadcasted in open, against Alavés de Abelardo.