Aug. 10 (UPI) -- The U.S. Treasury Department issued sanctions Wednesday against 43 entities and 22 people for alleged drug trafficking ties -- including Mexican soccer star Rafael Marquez Alvarez and folk singer Julio Cesar Alvarez.
The two men are accused of aiding Raul Flores Hernandez, described in Mexican media reports as a low-key cartel boss who has been trafficking Colombian cocaine to the United States and running casinos in Mexico for several years. The Treasury said he is an independent operator, but has alliances with several cartels that have allowed him to flourish since the 1980s.
"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," said Office of Foreign Assets Control Director John E. Smith. "This major joint action reflects the U.S. government's close cooperation with our law enforcement partners in Mexico to stop the illegal flow of narcotics and to target and expose drug kingpins and those who facilitate their illicit financial networks."
The Treasury accused Marquez and Cesar of having "longstanding relationships with Flores Hernandez" and acting "as front persons for him and his [drug trafficking operation] and held assets on their behalf."
Marquez denied any involvement with Flores Hernandez.
"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," he said, according to ESPN.
Cesar also denied the accusations against himself and Marquez in a Facebook Live video Wednesday. He also goes by the name Julion Alvarez.
Marquez is a two-time captain of the Mexican national soccer team and has played for Barcelona, Monaco, and the New York Red Bulls. He currently plays for Atlas in Guadalara, Mexico.
Cesar is one of the most popular norteño performers in Mexico. In 2016, he became the first norteño singer to do an arena tour in the United States when he traveled to 22 cities, according to Billboard.
It's not clear if either men have any assets in the United States. If they do, they will be frozen pending the outcome of the case. In 2011, Marquez turned heads when he bought a $6 million apartment in New York City.