LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Raúl Flores, the alleged Mexican drug trafficker linked to soccer star Rafael Márquez and singer Julión Álvarez, has ties to the cocaine trade dating abck to the late 1970s, according to an U.S. indictment in San Diego, California.
Identified in court documents as Raúl Flores Hernández, he also uses the alias 'Miguel Casas Linares.' Aged 64, his nickname is 'El Tio' (The Uncle) or 'El Señor' (The Mr).
While not considered a high profile drug capo in Mexico he is alleged to have provided money laudering services to the cartels for decades through what the Treasury Department described as a "vast network."
Little public information existed about him before Wednesday and it wasn't even widely known that he was behind bars. The Mexican Attorney General's Office confirmed Wednesday that Flores was captured in Zapopan, Jalisco, on July 20 and is currently being held in the Reclusorio Sur in Mexico City.
"He never ran a cartel like 'El Chapo' Guzmán or Nemesio Oseguera (leader of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel), but he's able to operate between the cartels," said Mike Vigil, former head of international operations for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
Under the so-called Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, the United States sanctioned a total of 21 Mexicans and 42 companies or entities in Mexico related to Flores on Wednesday, listing Márquez and Álvarez as his accompliaces in money laudering.
Flores was previously arrested in 2013, when there was a reward of more than $275,000 for his capture, but managed to get out of prison a year later despite a long criminal history in the United States.
"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 John E. Smith, director of the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), said in the statement on Wednesday.
In a brief press appearance Wednesday night Márquez denied the accusation and vowed to cooperate with authorities. "In the same way that I have done throughout my professional career I will confront this, my most difficult match, and I will try to clarify all this," he added.
Márquez gave a voluntary declaration before the Mexican attorney general's office on Wednesday, the office said in a statement.
Álvarez also took to Facebook to decalre his innocence and scheduled a press conference for Thursday evening.
According to U.S. officials Flores is linked to the Sinaloa Cartel and the Nueva Generación Jalisco Cartel.
He was indicted in San Diego March 17 for alleged trafficking of large quantities of cocaine from Colombia, Peru and Ecuador to Mexico, for distribution in the United States. He was on the radar on Mexican authorities as far back as 2010 when he was linked to organized crime and a reward of $275,000 (5 million pesos) was offered for his capture.
Márquez soccer foundation
U.S. officials say his network included "a signicant number of family members and trusted associates, such as Márquez and Álvarez. "Both men have longstanding relationships with Flores Hernandez, and have acted as front persons for him and his (drug trafficking organization) and held assets on their behalf," the Treasury Department said.
Márquez's representatives, Marco Antonio Fregoso González and Mauricio Heredia Horner were also included on the sanctions list by the Treasury Department.
Flores was linked to Márquez via nine companies, clubs and foundations headed by the former Barcelona player and Mexico team captain, according to OFAC. One of the companies, the Rafa Márquez Foundation Football and Heart, was involved in a 2011 children's tournament together with the Federation of Jalisco Clubs of Southern California.
The singer Julión Álvarez is linked to Flores through a company identified as Ticket Boleto S.A. Of C.V., and two musical producers: JCAM Editora Musical and Noryban Productions, both with addresses in Guadalara, Jalisco, and in Mazatlán, Sinaloa.