Ex-Baracelona player, and current captain of Mexico’s international team, Rafael Marquez is being sanctioned by the United States after accusations of being a frontman for an infamous drug cartel.
Marquez, who also played for Monaco and New York Red Bulls, and is currently playing for Mexican club side Atlas, has denied the claims.
However, according to The Independent, he’s been identified as one of 21 people within over 40 organisations who have alleged ties to suspected drug trafficker Raul Flores Hernandez.
The 38-year-old defender, who missed training with his teammates in Guadalajara on Wednesday, gave a statement on his situation to the Mexican attorney general’s office.
In his statement he confirms that:
Today several news outlets reported that I am part of an investigation conducted by the U.S Treasury Department for alleged ties to criminal organisation.
I categorically deny any type of relation with this organisation and with what has been stated in several news reports.
The U.S Treasury Department have also released their own statement confirming they are investigating Marquez.
In it they claim:
[He had] long standing relationships with Flores Hernández, acted as front persons for him and his DTO [drug-trafficking organisation] and held assets on their behalf.
OFAC Kingpin action targets 22 Mexican Nationals & 43 entities—the largest Kingpin designation against a Mexican drug network pic.twitter.com/RaGfecYahf
— Treasury Department (@USTreasury) August 9, 2017
As Marquez used to play in the MLS for the New York Red Bulls any assets of his under U.S jurisdiction – or controlled by someone in the U.S – will be frozen.
Marquez’s statement went on to say:
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 organisations 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.
Just as I have approached my professional career, today is my most difficult challenge. I will try to clear this up when I can and be the Rafa Marquez everyone knows.
The former Barca-player was part of the team that was managed by the legendary Frank Rijkaard.
During his time with the Catalan club he picked up four La Liga medals and two Champion Leagues medals and prior to that he had won a Ligue 1 title with Monaco.
At this year’s Confederations Cup he became the second oldest player in the tournament.
With a current investigation underway it remains to be seen if he will be representing Mexico (we assume for the last time – 38 is considered old at international level) at the World Cup in Russia next year. That’s assuming they qualify, which they probably will.
But this isn’t the first time a football star has been accused of being involved with drug cartels.
World famous Colombia goalkeeper Rene Higuita was sent to prison for kidnapping back in 1993, after he was found guilty of acting as a go between for drug kingpins Pablo Escobar and Carlos Molina.