Rafael Márquez: Mexico footballer denies drugs cartel link

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Rafael Márquez in a 2014 photoImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Rafael Márquez has played for European clubs Monaco and Barcelona

The Mexico national football team captain Rafa Márquez has denied US accusations that he has links with a drugs cartel.

Mr Márquez said he would co-operate with investigations and has made a voluntary declaration to Mexico's attorney general.

He was one of 21 people and 42 organisations singled out by the US treasury department for sanctions.

They are all accused of ties to alleged drug trafficker Raul Flores Hernández.

The US alleges that Mr Márquez acted as a "front person" for Mr Hernández through his football school and several health and sports outlets.

Mexican singer Julio César Álvarez is also on the list.

Media caption,

Julio Cesar Alvarez has been nominated for Latin Grammy awards

In a statement, the US treasury department said the organisations and individuals highlighted had "longstanding relationships with Flores Hernández... acted as front persons for him and his DTO [drug-trafficking organisation] and held assets on their behalf".

The statement said the ruling meant that any assets of theirs under US jurisdiction or controlled by people in the US would be frozen.

Mr Álvarez rejected the claims against him and also defended Mr Marquez.

"He's got one of the longest careers in football," he said in a post on Facebook. "Do you really think he would need to do something like this?"

Mr Márquez, 38, has represented Mexico in four World Cups and won more than 140 international caps in two decades with the national side.

Having played for European club sides Monaco and Barcelona, where he won the Spanish league four times and the Champions League twice, the defender returned to Mexico in 2015 to rejoin his first club Atlas, where he remains captain.