Mexico captain Marquez hit by cartel links claim
The captain of Mexico’s national football team has been sanctioned by the US for allegedly being a “front person” for a drug-trafficking cartel.
Rafael Marquez was one of 21 people and 42 organisations singled out by the US treasury department for sanctions.
They are all accused of having ties with alleged drug trafficker Raul Flores Hernandez.
Mr Marquez made a statement to the Mexican attorney general’s office but no details were released immediately.
Mexican singer Julio Cesar Alvarez is also on the list.
Both he and Rafael Marquez are accused, in a US treasury department statement, of having “longstanding relationships with Flores Hernandez… acted as front persons for him and his DTO [drug-trafficking organisation] and held assets on their behalf”.
The statement said the ruling meant that any assets of theirs under US jurisdiction or controlled by people in the US would be frozen.
Mr Marquez, known to fans as “Rafa”, made a voluntary declaration before the Mexican attorney general’s office on Wednesday, it said.
Julio Cesar Alvarez rejected the claims against him and also defended Mr Marquez.
“He’s got one of the longest careers in football,” he said in a post on Facebook. “Do you really think he would need to do something like this?”
Mr Marquez, 38, has represented Mexico in four World Cups and won more than 140 international caps in two decades with the national side.
Having played for European club sides Monaco and Barcelona, where he won the Spanish league four times and the Champions League twice, the defender returned to Mexico in 2015 to rejoin his first club Atlas, where he remains captain.