Mexico national soccer team captain Rafael Marquez has been accused by the US authorities of being a “front person” for a drug trafficking cartel.
The soccer player was sanctioned by the US Treasury Department along with 20 other people and 42 organizations over alleged ties to Raul Flores Hernandez, said to be a leading drug trafficker.
The US Treasury Department said in a statement that Marquez, together with Mexican singer Julio Cesar Alvarez, “have longstanding relationships with Flores Hernandez, and have acted as front persons for him and his DTO [drug trafficking organization] and held assets on their behalf.”
Any US assets of those covered by the sanctions will be frozen, the statement said.
Marquez, 38, denied the accusations at a press conference later on Wednesday.
“I categorically deny any type of relation with this organization and with what has been stated in several news reports,” he said, ESPN FC reported.
“I understand the legal situation that I find myself in, and I will immediately work on clearing up the facts alongside my team of attorneys.
“I reiterate that I have never participated in any of these organizations that have been mentioned in these reports, and want to reiterate my duty to assist the various authorities and corresponding governments in a punctual manner and maintain the media informed,” he added.
Marquez also made a voluntary statement to the Mexican Attorney General’s Office, the details of which have so far not been released.
Marquez has made more than 140 appearances for the senior Mexican national team, and most recently played at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia at the end of June and beginning of July.
His professional career spans 20 years, and he has played at clubs including Spanish giants Barcelona, where he won the UEFA Champions League twice, French team Monaco, and MLS club New York Red Bulls. He currently plays in his homeland at Atlas.