U.S. Treasury Department Sanctions Rafael Márquez For Alleged Drug Trafficking Ties
Mexican national football team captain Rafael Márquez "is among 22 people sanctioned for alleged ties to a drug trafficking organization," the United States Treasury announced on Wednesday, according to the AP. The treasury said in a statement that it will "also sanction 43 entities in Mexico, including a football team and casino." The sanctions are "the result of a multi-year investigation" of the drug trafficking organization allegedly headed by Raúl Flores Hernández. Márquez is a former Barcelona defender who currently plays for Liga MX side Atlas in Guadalajara. He said in a statement, "I categorically deny any kind of relation to this organization." He added that "today is my most difficult match; I will try to clear all of this up." The U.S. government referred to Márquez and Mexican singer Julión Álvarez as people with "longstanding relationships" with Flores Hernández, 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" (AP, 8/9). BLOOMBERG's Sobczyk & Navarro reported Marquez "voluntarily showed up" at the Mexican Attorney General's Office on Wednesday to give a statement. The Mexican Football Federation (FMF) did not "immediately have a comment" and calls to a football school run by Márquez "went unanswered" (BLOOMBERG, 8/10). REUTERS' Gabriel Stargardter reported Atlas "could not immediately be reached for comment" (REUTERS, 8/9).
NIKE TO SEVER TIES?: In Mexico City, Ricardo Magallán reported Nike has sponsored Márquez "for practically his entire career." The brand has used the player to "strengthen its presence in the Mexican market since it lost its sponsorship of the Mexican national team to adidas." Wednesday's report "changed everything," and "it is likely that Nike will officially announce the withdrawal of its sponsorship of Márquez" (LA AFICIÓN, 8/10).