US Sanctions Mexican Soccer Player for Alleged Connections to Drug Lord

US sanctions 22 Mexican individuals, 43 entities tied to drug gang

Mexico captain Rafa Marquez designated as member of drug trafficking organization by US Treasury

He also spent part of two seasons with Major League Soccer's New York Red Bulls and now plays for Mexican club Atlas. He did not practice with Atlas on Wednesday.

Marquez, however, has categorically denied any type of relationship with the drug cartel. Flores Hernandez has worked independently in Guadalajara while painting relationships Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels. He said it would be hard to imagine Marquez didn't know who he was dealing with because Flores Hernandez has been around for so long. The Treasury also designated 42 Mexican entities as providing support for Flores Hernandez's organization, including a soccer team, Club Deportivo Morumbi.

However, Alvarez, known as "El Rey de la Taquilla" or the king of the box office for his ability to pack out Mexican stadiums, rushed to the defence of his "great friend" Marquez.

Mr Vigil said: "His forte has been navigating between cartels".

"Everything I have, I've earned", he said. Indictments against Flores Hernandez came in March, and since then the investigation has been trying to turn up his associates.

Alvarez refuted the allegations in a video posted on Facebook, saying "absolutely nothing happened".

Alvarez called Marquez a friend and sent him a hug: "Everything they are saying there can be cleared up". The office declined further comment.

Several businesses and charitable foundations have ties to Marquez, and do business in the United States.

Marquez is famed as a tenacious defender whose crunching tackles have sometimes seen him sent off in high-profile matches.

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

A stint in MLS with New York Red Bulls followed, before he turned to play for Leon in 2013.

Marquez has represented Mexico in four World Cups, and played for Monaco and Barcelona, where he won the Spanish league four times and the Champions League twice. He has been a member of the Mexican national team since 1997 and has made 143 career appearances, adding 19 goals.

Several news outlets reported that I am part of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Treasury Department for alleged ties to criminal organization. Under the terms of the briefing, the official could not be named. He also has sponsorships with American companies that he will now lose. It claimed to have provided food, educational and sports programs for about 1,000 low-income kids.

Drug traffickers have always been interested in soccer stars and musicians, Vigil said. As a result of today's action, all assets of the individuals and entities designated that are under USA jurisdiction or are in the control of US persons are frozen, and USA persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.

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