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Mexican Soccer Star Sanctioned by US for Drug Trafficking Ties

FILE - Mexico's soccer team captain Rafael Marquez Alvarez attends a news conference before training for the World Cup in the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil, June 12, 2014.

Well-known Mexican soccer star Rafael Marquez Alvarez is one of 22 people sanctioned Wednesday by the U.S. Treasury Department for alleged connections to a Mexican narcotics organization.

The Treasury announced that it would sanction 42 Mexican entities – including a casino, several bars and restaurants, and a music production company – for providing support to longtime Mexican drug kingpin Raul Flores Hernandez.

"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," the Treasury’s director of foreign asset control, John Smith, said in a statement.

The Treasury said Mexican authorities also “seized diverse assets” belonging to Hernandez, including a Guadalajara casino.

In addition to sanctions placed on the soccer star Alvarez, who previously played for major league soccer teams in the U.S. and Spain, the Treasury also identified singer Julio Cesar Alvarez, better known as Julion Alvarez, as having been one of several people who acted as “front persons for [Hernandez] and his [drug trafficking organization] and held assets on their behalf.”

Several of Hernandez’s family members also had sanctions levied against them. The sanctions will block access to any assets held in the U.S. and block U.S. citizens from doing business with the named subjects.