Mexico soccer star Rafael Marquez among 22 sanctioned for drug ties

- Legendary Mexican soccer player Rafael Marquez Alvarez and a well-known norteno band leader are among 22 people sanctioned for alleged ties to a drug trafficking organization, the United States Treasury announced Wednesday.

The Treasury said in a statement that it will also sanction 43 entities in Mexico, including a soccer team and casino.

The sanctions are the result of a multi-year investigation of the drug trafficking organization allegedly headed by Raul Flores Hernandez.

It is the single largest such designation of a drug trafficking organization ever by its Office of Foreign Assets Control, the statement said.

Marquez is a former Barcelona and New York Red Bulls star who currently plays for the Mexican soccer club Atlas in Guadalajara and is captain of the Mexican national team.

Flores Hernandez allegedly operated independently in the northern city of Guadalajara, but maintained alliances with the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels.

Federal drug trafficking indictments against Flores Hernandez were returned in March in Washington and the southern district of California.

The U.S. government referred to Marquez and 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."

The sanctions freeze all U.S. assets of the people and entities named and forbid U.S. citizens from doing business with them.

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