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United States law enforcers name Mexican captain Márquez as front for drug cartel

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Reuters

A Mexican football star and a norteño band leader were sanctioned Wednesday (9 August) by the US Treasury Department for alleged ties to a drug trafficker.

"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 in the statement.

Raul Flores Hernandez was the operator of this drug organization for more than 20 years and was able to cover up his work by working with other drug cartels.

The Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act passed in 1999 grants the department the power to freeze the assets of foreign nationals believed to be involved in global drug trafficking.

The U.S. statement did not say whether Marquez or any of the others sanctioned face charges in the United States, but the ruling reportedly means that any assets they possess under USA jurisdiction will be frozen.

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.

He also played in the MLS for the New York Red Bulls before ultimately returning to Mexico in 2015 to rejoin his first club Atlas, where he is still a captain on the squad.

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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. Indictments against Flores Hernandez came in March, and since then the investigation has been trying to turn up his associates.

Marquez denied any involvement with Flores Hernandez.

Mexico captain and former Barcelona defender Rafael Marquez has been sanctioned by the United States after being accused of being a "front person" for a drug-trafficking cartel.

Marquez is also renowned as one of the greatest players in the history of the Mexican national team.

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.

The Treasury also cited a soccer academy and health and rehabilitation clinics owned by Marquez as having ties to the drug-trafficking organization.

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