Mexican footballer Rafael Marquez Alvarez is among 22 people sanctioned by the US Treasury Department for alleged ties to a drug trafficking organization.
The US 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 organisation allegedly headed by Raul Flores Hernandez.
It is the single largest designation of a drug trafficking organisation ever by its Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the statement said.
Marquez is a former Barcelona and Monaco star who currently plays for the Mexican club Atlas in Guadalajara and is captain of Mexico’s national team.
Flores Hernandez allegedly operated independently in the northern city of Guadalajara, but maintained alliances with the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels.
The Mexican Attorney General’s Office also seized related assets, including the Grand Casino near Guadalajara, according to the statement.
“Raul Flores Hernandez has operated for decades because of his long-standing relationships with other drug cartels and his use of financial front persons to mask his investments of illegal drug proceeds”, OFAC Director John E Smith said in the statement.
Federal drug trafficking indictments against Flores Hernandez were returned in March in Washington and the southern district of California.
The US government referred to Marquez and Norteno band singer Julio Cesar Alvarez, better known as Julion Alvarez, as people with long-standing relationships with Flores Hernandez, who “have acted as front persons for him and his (drug trafficking organisation) and held assets on their behalf”.
The sanctions freeze all US assets of the people and entities named and forbid US citizens from doing business with them.