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Ex-Barcelona Defender Rafael Marquez Among 22 Sanctioned For Drug Trafficking Ties In Mexico

Two Mexican celebrities — a soccer star and a norteño band leader — have been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for alleged ties to a drug trafficker.

Marquez played for

Soccer legend Rafael Marquez and singer Julio Cesar Alvarez Montelongo are among nearly two dozen people accused Wednesday of aiding alleged drug kingpin Raul Flores Hernandez.

Marquez, a former Barcelona and New York Red Bulls star who now plays for the Guadalajara club Atlas, is Mexican sports royalty. A skilled center back and defensive midfielder, he’s widely known as just “Rafa” and has been captain of ’s team at each of the last four World Cups. He had hoped to become the first player in history to captain a national team at a fifth World Cup.

He has refused all charges

Alvarez, known onstage as Julion Alvarez, is a Latin Grammy-nominated singer who was once praised by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto as “a great example for Mexican youth.”

Treasury officials say Marquez and Alvarez acted as fronts and held assets for Flores, who officials say has been smuggling drugs and laundering money since the 1980s and has alliances with with the powerful Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation drug cartels.

Marquez (circled) is among 22 sanctioned for alleged ties to a drug trafficking organisation. Image Source – Daily Mail

According to a news release announcing the actions, the Treasury Department has frozen all assets under U.S. jurisdiction that belong to Flores, Marquez, Alvarez and the others accused of ties to Flores. The Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, which was passed by Congress in 1999, gives the Treasury Department the power to freeze assets of foreign nationals it believes are involved in international drug trafficking.

Marquez is accused of Drug Trafficking

A soccer school owned by Marquez and his charitable organization are among the entities sanctioned, along with a casino, a soccer club and a music production studio.

A representative for Marquez could not be reached Wednesday, and the soccer star did not issue a public statement. Mexico’s attorney general’s office, which is cooperating with U.S. authorities, said Marquez gave a statement to the Mexican attorney general’s office Wednesday.

The Mexico captain signed for Barcelona in July 2003

In a video Alvarez posted Wednesday on Facebook, the musician refuted the allegations, saying “absolutely nothing happened.” Alvarez said he had no need to join the drug trade, and said of his money: “I earned it.”

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