Álvarez, left, and Márquez: narco-trafficking kingpins. Álvarez, left, and Márquez: narco-trafficking kingpins.

US links soccer star and singer to narcos

National team captain Rafael Márquez among 22 named under Kingpin Act

Mexico’s No. 1 soccer star and an award-winning Mexican singer have been identified as front men for drug traffickers and placed on the United States’ kingpin list.

The U.S. Treasury Department today designated Rafael Márquez, captain of Mexico’s national soccer team and the winner of the most international titles in the country’s history, and banda singer Julión Álvarez as having links to a drug-trafficking organization.

The designation, made under what is known as the Kingpin Act, prohibits individuals and related businesses from access to the U.S. financial system and trade and transactions with U.S. companies and individuals.

For Márquez and Álvarez it means the immediate cancellation of a U.S. visa, the freezing of any assets they hold in the U.S. and a prohibition against any U.S. company from carrying on business with them.

Any U.S. company that has a sponsorship agreement with Márquez is prohibited from making payments to him or his foundation, while Álvarez will not be allowed to give performances in the U.S. or collect royalties from streaming services such as Spotify and iTunes.

In the kingpin designation both men are accused of links to suspected drug trafficker Raúl Flores Hernández, described by U.S. officials as “the least known drug lord.”

He faces charges of trafficking cocaine and money laundering in the U.S. and is wanted in Mexico for organized crime and other charges.

The U.S. government claims Márquez and Álvarez have collaborated with Flores for years and both have a longstanding friendship with him.

The Kingpin Act designation also includes nine companies or organizations controlled by Márquez and three belonging to Álvarez. Twenty other individuals, most of them based in Jalisco, were also designated.

Márquez, 38, plays for and captains the Mexican soccer club Atlas and the country’s national team. He is widely regarded as one of the best Mexican players of all time, according to Wikipedia.

He captained the country’s team for four consecutive editions of the World Cup and has played more World Cup matches — a total of 16 — than any other Mexican player.

His fellow “kingpin” has been nominated for three Latin Grammy Awards, five Latin American Music Awards — of which he won two — and more than a dozen Lo Nuestro Awards conducted by the Univision TV network, of which he won three.

Álvarez, 34, last year became the first regional Mexican performing artist to go on tour in the U.S.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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