US sanctions Rafael Marquez over connection to Mexican drug lord

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 11: Mexico Men's National Team player Rafael Marquez (4) looks on in the first half during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier at MAPFRE Stadium on November 11, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. Mexico defeated the United States by the score of 2-1. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire

Mexican national team favorite Rafael Marquez has been sanctioned by the United States government for his alleged role in aiding Mexican drug kingpin Raul Flores Hernandez, it was announced on Wednesday.

Raul Flores Hernandez has operated for decades because of his longstanding relationships with other drug cartels and his use of financial front persons to mask his investments of illegal drug proceeds,” said Office of Foreign Assets Control director John E. Smith in a statement.

The 38-year-old Marquez currently serves as captain of both the Mexican national team, as well as Atlas, a club located in Guadalajara, Mexico.

He began his youth career with Atlas, playing from 1992-96, before matriculating up to the main club from 1996-99 at just 21 years old. He has been a member of the Mexican national team since 1997 and has made 143 career appearances, adding 19 goals. The team is coming off its best finish with Marquez as a member of the roster back in 2014, when it managed just 10th place after going 2-1-1.

The majority of his non-international career has come with Barcelona, where he played from 2003-10, appearing in 163 games. After his long tenure in Spain, he arrived in the United States to play for the New York Red Bulls, where he stayed from 2010-12, scoring just a single goal in 44 matches.

He became the first player to captain his national team at four separate World Cups (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014) and is widely considered one of the premier players in the country’s illustrious soccer history.

Marquez returned to Atlas in December 2015 after brief stops with Leon and Hellas Verona.

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