US Sanctions Mexican Soccer Player for Alleged Connections to Drug Lord

Marquez was one of 22 people and 42 organisations publicly identified by the United States treasury department for sanctions having been accused of having links to alleged drug trafficker Raul Flores Hernandez. The entities include restaurants, bars, tourism, music production, the Grand Casino in Guadalajara, the Mexican Football club, and Club Deportivo Morumbi.

"Raul Flores Hernandez has operated for decades because of his longstanding relationships with other drug cartels and his use of financial front persons to mask his investments of illegal drug proceeds", said OFAC Director John E. Smith.

The Department said Flores Hernandez has operated independently since the 1980s but "maintains strategic alliances" with other Mexican drug cartel leaders, including the Sinaloa group.

The Treasury Dept. acted against Flores under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act), and the sanctions represent the largest action taken against a Mexican drug-trafficking organization in the history of the department's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

The sanctions freeze all USA assets of the people and entities named and forbid US citizens from doing business with them.

Mexican singer Julio Cesar Alvarez is also on the list. The sanctions are tied to a multi-year investigation into kingpin Raul Flores Hernandez's drug operation.

Mexico national soccer team captain Rafael Marquez has been accused by the USA authorities of being a "front person" for a drug trafficking cartel.

Federal drug trafficking indictments against Flores Hernandez were returned in March in Washington and the southern district of California.

In March, Flores Hernandez was indicted in the U.S. state of California and Washington, DC on drug trafficking charges.

For much of that period, Marquez was the only Mexican playing in Europe's top leagues, and he was also the captain of the Mexican team in four World Cups from 2002 to 2014.

Later in the day, Marquez denied having any links to drug traffickers.

He spent four years at Monaco between 1999 and 2003, where he won Ligue 1 and the Coupe de la Ligue, before moving to Barca where he added to his haul with four LaLiga titles and two Champions League medals.

Marquez's soccer academy and health and rehabilitation clinics were among the sanctioned organizations, according to Reuters.

Mr Marquez, 38, has represented Mexico in four World Cups and won more than 140 worldwide caps in two decades with the national side.

  • Rogelio Becker