Originally written on The Other Paper  |  Last updated 11/19/14

Police in Brazil have launched a manhunt after the severed head of a former professional soccer player was left on the doorstep of his home Tuesday. The horrified wife of Joao Rodrigo Silva Santos made the gruesome discovery as she left the house in Rio de Janeiro for work early yesterday, reports DailyMail.com. The player's eyes and tongue had been cut out and his head placed inside one of his own backpacks, police said. Santos retired from football two years ago after a successful career playing for several teams in Rio de Janeiro, as well as for clubs in Sweden and Honduras. He had recently set up his own business selling health foods and dietary supplements. Police said today that Santos is believed to have been snatched from outside the shop he had opened in the Realengo district of Rio as he closed up at around 7.45pm on Monday. Witnesses said they saw several men bundling him into his car, a Hyundai i30, and speeding off just before midnight, a spokesman said. He was reported missing by his wife at 9 pm on Monday. Investigators are working on the theory that Santos could have been murdered by a drug gang because of his wife's work at a military police base in a local slum. She is a military policewoman who does social work to take back control of the favelas from drug gangs Santos played as a professional footballer between 1996 and 2005  — during which he scored 33 goals in 103 matches as a striker.  Nicknamed Humble Hero, he was signed to a number of second division teams. He also played abroad for Swedish Club Oster Vaxjo  and Olimpia in Honduras.  A recent United Nations report into drug trafficking-related crime in Brazil found that more than half of the homicides, robberies and thefts have a direct or indirect link with this criminal activity. The FIFA World Cup begins in Brazil on June 12.

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