Published: Fri, August 11, 2017
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Former Barca Star Accused Of Drug Cartel Links

Former Barca Star Accused Of Drug Cartel Links

Mexico's national team captain Rafael Márquez has been sanctioned by the United States treasury department for allegedly being a "front person" for a drug-trafficking cartel.

Former Barcelona player Rafael Marquez and singer Julio Cesar Alvarez Montelongo were among almost two dozen people accused of helping alleged drug leader Raul Flores Hernandez, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Mexican Attorney General's Office also seized related assets Wednesday, including the Grand Casino near Guadalajara, according to the US statement.

Flores Hernandez was alleged to be an independent operator, one who has been active in the drug trade since the 1980s and who has "strategic alliances" with Mexico's Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels.

In the Treasury's statement, they said that this is the largest designation of an organization that's drug trafficking from the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

A famous Mexico singer known as Julion Alvarez was also sanctioned.

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

They include a professional football player, Rafael Marquez Alvarez, and a singer, Julio Cesar Alvarez Montelongo, who the Department said have long-standing relationships with Flores Hernandez.

Mike Vigil, former chief of worldwide operations for the US Drug Enforcement Administration, claimed that Flores Hernandez has been active since the late 1980s but has never risen above being a mid-level trafficker. In March 2017, federal drug trafficking indictments were returned in the District of Columbia and the Southern District of California against Flores Hernandez.

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

The 38-year-old football legend is the only player in football history to captain a national team at four different World Cups.

During his club career, he won two Champions League trophies and four league titles while playing for Barcelona. In 2011, Marquez turned heads when he bought a $6 million apartment in New York City.

However, the legendary defender went public later to deny all allegations levelled at him: "Today several news outlets reported that I am part of an investigation conducted by the US Treasury Department for alleged ties to criminal organization".

Mr Marquez, 38, has represented Mexico in four World Cups and won more than 140 worldwide caps in two decades with the national side. Among the entities that the department cited were his soccer academy and health and rehabilitation clinics.

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