Rafa Marquez, from Designated Player to Specially Designated National

11 August 2017, 12:16 | Isaac Mcdaniel

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Mexico Soccer Star Among 22 Sanctioned for Alleged Drug Ties

Marquez, who now 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. OFAC targeted 22 Mexican nationals in total, as well as 42 businesses, for "providing support" to Flores and his organization's drug trafficking activities, according to a press release. He has played in four FIFA World Cups and is vying to become just the third player to play in five.

While the Treasury's statement did not say Marquez will face any charges in the USA, the ruling states all of Marquez's assets under US jurisdiction or in control of people in the USA will be frozen.

Marquez, 38, is a former star defender for Spanish giants FC Barcelona.

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

Márquez, 38, has represented Mexico in four World Cups and has won more than 150 global caps.

It is the single largest such designation of a drug trafficking organization ever by its Office of Foreign Assets Control, the statement said.

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However, Marquez, who reportedly went volentarily to give a statement on the matter to Attorney General's Office, has come out strongly to deny that he was involved in any way.

Although he operates independently, Raul Flores Hernandez maintains strategic alliances with the leadership of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel and the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generación. Indictments against Flores Hernandez came in March, and since then the investigation has been trying to turn up his associates. He has been a member of the Mexican national team since 1997 and has made 143 career appearances, adding 19 goals.

"Today several news outlets reported that I am part of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Treasury Department for alleged ties to criminal organization".

Marquez's children's foundation was also linked to Flores Hernandez, though it also had a number of corporate sponsors. The musician said he did not need to join the drug trade because he "earned" his money.

The sanctions themselves will freeze any USA assets that those sanctioned hold, and it disallows United States citizens from doing business with them.



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