Legendary Mexican soccer player Rafael Marquez Alvarez and a well-known band leader are among 22 people sanctioned for alleged ties to a drug trafficking organization, the U.S. Treasury Department announced Wednesday.
The U.S. government referred to Marquez and 34-year-old norteno singer Julio Cesar Alvarez, better known as Julion Alvarez, as people with longstanding relationships with Flores Hernandez who "have acted as front persons for him and his (drug trafficking organization) and held assets on their behalf."
Marquez, 38, is a former defender for Barcelona, Monaco and New York Red Bulls who currently plays for the Mexican soccer club Atlas in Guadalajara and is captain of the Mexican national team. He did not practice with Atlas on Wednesday.
Later in the day, Marquez denied having any links to drug traffickers.
"I categorically deny any kind of relation to this organization," Marquez said in a statement, adding "today is my most difficult match; I will try to clear all of this up."
San Diego criminal defense attorney John Kirby, who once served as an assistant U.S. attorney, talked with Telemundo 20 about the addition of Marquez and Alvarez to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) list.
Being on a list of countries, alleged terrorists and drug kingpins, makes it impossible to do business in the U.S., Kirby said.
“It’s like they are red hot, they can’t be touched,” he said.
In his experience, Kirby said it’s very difficult to even get legal representation in the U.S. because attorneys have to ask special permission to accept funds from people named on the OFAC list.
According to the U.S. Treasury Department, more than 2,000 individuals and entities have been named pursuant to the Kingpin Act for their role in international narcotics trafficking since 2000.