Mexican Stars Accused Of Aiding Drug Kingpin

By Victoria Kim 08/11/17

The Treasury Department says the accused aided in money laundering for a notorious drug kingpin.

 Rafael Marquez
Mexican soccer player Rafael "Rafa" Marquez denies the allegations.

A Mexican World Cup star and a Latin-Grammy nominated singer are among dozens of individuals and organizations accused by the U.S. government of aiding a drug trafficking organization.

The U.S. Treasury Department announced Wednesday that it has frozen the assets of soccer player Rafael Márquez and singer Julion Álvarez, who are among 22 people and 42 organizations with alleged ties to Raul Flores Hernández, a drug “kingpin” who authorities say has kept “strategic alliances” with the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation drug cartels.

The assets frozen “under U.S. jurisdiction” include a soccer school and a charity owned by Márquez. 

The Treasury Department says the accused aided in money laundering for Hernández, who has been in the drug trade since the 1980s, operating throughout Guadalajara, Jalisco and Mexico City. 

“Raul Flores Hernández 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,” according to a Treasury Department statement by the department issued on Wednesday (August 9). “This major joint action reflects the U.S. government’s close cooperation with our law enforcement partners in Mexico to stop the illegal flow of narcotics and to target and expose drug kingpins and those who facilitate their illicit financial networks.”

Márquez, who has been captain of Mexico’s football team for the last four World Cups, denied the allegations on Thursday, according to the BBC. Álvarez also denied having ties to the drug trafficking organization in a Facebook post.

Drug traffickers must disguise the source of their earnings to avoid raising suspicion from authorities. According to the United Nations, around an estimated $2 trillion in U.S. dollars are laundered through criminal enterprises globally per year.

In 2010, Wachovia bank paid the U.S. government a total of $160 million for failing to detect at least $110 million in drug trafficking profits as well as money used to purchase a plane used to smuggle cocaine that was laundered through the bank, which is now part of Wells Fargo.

“Wachovia’s blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations,” said federal prosecutor Jeffrey Sloman at the time.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr