Mexican Soccer Star Sanctioned by U.S. for Drug Trafficking Ties

Ross Houston
August 9, 2017

The US Treasury Department said on Wednesday it had sanctioned Mexican soccer star Rafael "Rafa" Marquez and more than 20 others for suspected links with an accused drug kingpin, tarnishing the reputation of one of Mexico's sporting giants.

The Treasury action also targeted 42 entities in Mexico tied to the Flores Hernandez network.

Marquez is one of 22 people to receive OFAC designation Wednesday for alleged involvement in the "Flores DTO", a drug trafficking ring led by Raul Flores Hernandez.

He also spent part of two seasons with Major League Soccer's New York Red Bulls and now plays for Mexican club Atlas.

Marquez, along with a popular singer known as Julion Alvarez and almost two dozen other Mexican nationals, is accused of financial ties with Raul Flores Hernandez, a suspected drug trafficker with links to the Sinaloa cartel and the Jalisco New Generation gang.

Marquez's current team, Club Atlas in Guadalajara, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Treasury said Mexican authorities also "seized diverse assets" belonging to Hernandez, including a Guadalajara casino.

Federal drug trafficking indictments against Flores Hernandez were returned in March in Washington and the southern district of California. In Mexico he is revered as one of the country's all-time greats, though many US fans remember him for a studs-up, head-butt foul on Cobi Jones that earned him a direct red card at the 2002 World Cup.

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 La Liga titles and two Champions League medals. Marquez has scored 13 goals wearing the green jersey in 158 appearances between 1997 and 2017, according to statistics published by the Mexican Soccer Federation. The sanctions freeze all USA assets of the people and entities named and forbid United States citizens from doing business with them.

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