Rafael Márquez: Captain of Mexico by day, cartel ‘front man’ by night?

A career stretching over 21 years, and 143 caps for Mexico, Rafael Márquez is without doubt one of the most respected footballers in South America.

The former Barcelona man clocked 163 appearances for the Catalan side, winning four La Ligas and two Champions Leagues along the way; a glittering career that could all come undone following the news coming out of Mexico Wednesday evening.

Márquez, along with 22 others, has been sanctioned by the US Treasury for involvement with notorious cartel leader, Raul Flores Hernandez. The allegations are suggesting that Márquez was a “front person” in the drug trafficking, and the Mexico captain is currently being investigated along with 42 other organisations.

It’s claimed Márquez’s involvement with Hernandez included being a long-term friend and holding ‘assets’ on behalf of the drug lord.

Márquez has categorically denied the claims and did not train with his current team, Atlas, in an attempt to clear his name from the allegations:

“Today several news outlets reported that I am part of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Treasury Department for alleged ties to criminal organization. I categorically deny any type of relation with this organization and with what has been stated in several news reports.

“I reiterate that I have never participated in any of these organizations that have been mentioned in these reports, and want to reiterate my duty to assist the various authorities and corresponding governments in a punctual manner and maintain the media informed.”

Hernandez was reportedly operating in Guadalajara, and was arrested on the 20th of July. Along with Marquez, Mexican singer, Julio César Álvarez, has also been included in the allegations of helping Hernandez.

Álvarez has denied the claims over a Facebook post this morning, and defended the suggestion that Marquez was involved in the trafficking:

“He’s got one of the longest careers in football. Do you really think he would need to do something like this?”

Following Hernandez’ arrest, the drug lord’s extradition is currently being processed as further investigations are carried out by US Treasury Department.