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US Sanctions Mexican Soccer Legend Rafa Martinez For Ties To Local Drug Lord

On Wednesday, the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control announced that it was imposing sanctions on eight more Venezuelan individuals, including the brother of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, for "undermining democracy in the South American country." The Treasury statement said seven are current or former Venezuelan government officials, whom the U.S. accuses of supporting the creation of a constituent assembly that’s charged with rewriting Venezuela’s constitution and yesterday declared itself "superior to all other government institutions." Chavez’s brother Adan, among those targeted, has been appointed secretary of the new assembly.

In a separate announcement, the Treasury also announced sanctions on "longtime Mexican drug kingpin Raul Flores Hernandez and his vast network", where it stunned the international footbal community claiming that Mexico international defender and superstar Rafa Marquez was among 22 people sanctioned for being a front man for the kingpin.

The Treasury said in a statement that it will also sanction 43 entities in Mexico, including a football club and casino. The sanctions are the result of a multi-year investigation of the drug trafficking organization allegedly headed by Raul Flores Hernandez. It was the single largest such designation of a drug trafficking organization ever by its Office of Foreign Assets Control, the statement said.

Flores Hernandez operated independently in the northern city of Guadalajara, but maintained alliances with the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels. Federal drug trafficking indictments against Flores Hernandez were returned in March in Washington and the southern district of California.

Marquez is a former Barcelona and New York Red Bulls star who currently plays for the Mexican club Atlas in Guadalajara and is captain of the Mexican national team. According to the Treasury,

The U.S. government referred to Marquez and Norteno singer Julio Cesar Alvarez, better known as Julion Alvarez, as people with longstanding relationships with Flores Hernandez, who "have acted as front persons for him and his [drug trafficking organization] and held assets on their behalf.''

The sanctions freeze all U.S. assets of the people and entities named and forbid U.S. citizens from doing business with them.