MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – A judge in Mexico ordered on Thursday that bank accounts linked to businesses owned by soccer star Rafa Marquez be unfrozen, following a designation in August by the U.S. government that the sportsman was linked to a suspected drug trafficker.
Last month, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Marquez, who is one of Mexico’s best known athletes, along with more than 20 other Mexican citizens for suspected financial links to accused drug kingpin Raul Flores Hernandez.
The move came after U.S. President Donald Trump promised to crush Mexico’s drug gangs, and the Treasury Department had described it as “the largest single Kingpin Act action against a Mexican drug cartel network that OFAC (the Office of Foreign Assets Control) has designated.”
Marquez, who hails from the cartel-riddled state of Michoacan, has forcefully denied the accusations that he has ties to Hernandez, who is suspected of having links to the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation drug cartels.
According to local media, Federal Judge Luz Maria Ortega issued the provisional order to unfreeze Marquez’s accounts.
A document issued from the court did not include her name – though it is common in drug-related cases for judge’s names to be withheld in order to protect them.
The document did not detail the reasoning behind the judge’s decision. It noted that the order applies to two bank accounts, while a third account also belonging to Marquez was still being reviewed.
Marquez, 38, currently plays for Guadalajara-based pro soccer club Atlas. He played in Europe for club sides FC Barcelona and Monaco, and still sometime captains the national side having represented his country in four World Cup soccer tournaments.
Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore