Rafael Marquez has earned 143 Mexico caps and has been linked to the drug trafficking case
Former Barcelona defender Rafael Marquez is among 22 people sanctioned for alleged ties to a drug trafficking organisation, the United States Treasury announced on Wednesday.
The Treasury said in a statement that it will also sanction 43 entities in Mexico, including a football team and casino. The sanctions freeze all US assets of the people and entities named and forbid US citizens from doing business with them.
Marquez, who currently plays for the Mexican club Atlas in Guadalajara, is captain of the Mexican national team, and messages left for Marquez’s agent Enrique Nieto seeking comment were not immediately answered.
The Mexico captain signed for Barcelona in July 2003 and is his country’s most capped player
Marquez (circled) is among 22 sanctioned for alleged ties to a drug trafficking organisation
The 38-year-old, who has also played for Monaco and New York Red Bulls, joins a well-known Norteño band leader Julio Cesar Alvarez in becoming embroiled in the controversy.
It is the single largest such designation of a drug trafficking organisation ever by its Office of Foreign Assets Control.
The sanctions are the result of a lengthy investigation of the drug trafficking organisation allegedly headed by Raul Flores Hernandez.
Flores Hernandez allegedly operated independently in the northern city of Guadalajara, but maintained alliances with the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels. Marquez’s own football school, a charitable organisation, has been accused of providing support to Hernandez.
Marquez in action for Barca during the 2006 Champions League final against Arsenal in Paris
Marquez is accused of supporting an organisation headed by Raul Flores Hernandez
Norteño band leader Julio Cesar Alvarez was also named among those facing sanctioning
1996-1999: Atlas 77 games (6 goals)
1999-2003: Monaco 87 (5)
2003-2010: Barcelona 163 (9)
2010-2012: New York Red Bulls 44 (1)
2013-2014: León 40 (1)
2014-2015: Hellas Verona 35 (0)
2016-present: Atlas 37 (1)
1997 –present: Mexico 143 (19)
The Mexican Attorney General’s Office also seized related assets, including the Grand Casino near Guadalajara.
‘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,’ OFAC Director John E. Smith said.
Federal drug trafficking indictments against Flores Hernandez were returned in March in Washington and the southern district of California.
The US government referred to Marquez and singer Alvarez, better known as Julion Alvarez, as people with longstanding relationships with Flores Hernandez, who ‘have acted as front persons for him and his (drug trafficking organisation) and held assets on their behalf.’
Marquez has played for his country at the last four World Cups, and hopes to go to his fifth when the tournament takes place once more in Russia next summer.
The player spent four years with Monaco between 1999 and 2003 before joining Barcelona. He won four La Liga titles with the Catalans and two Champions League medals among nine major honours.
The two-time Champions League winner clatters into Cristiano Ronaldo in April 2008
Marquez left Barcelona in 2010 and spent two season in MLS with New York Red Bulls