Because Mexican football is an attractive industry for narco and money laundering


By CAPosts 31 July, 2020 - 07:02pm 68 views

In the image, Guillermo Álvarez, director of the Cooperativa Cruz Azul, dueña of the team of the same name. EFE/Thin Frames/File

The scandal that shakes the Cruz Azul over illicit money transactions is not an isolated case and shows the Rabbol as an attractive court for drug trafficking.

The Attorney General's Office issued last Wednesday one order of apprehension against the President of Cruz Azul, Guillermo Alvarez, for the crimes of organized crime and operation with resources of illicit origin.

Other teams such as Querétaro, Celaya, Irapuato, La Piedad and Mérida have been related to the money of drug traffickers such as Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzman Loera.

The appeal? The national football is a million-dollar industry in which members of the criminal groups can make the resources they obtain from their activities appear legal.

The football numbers beyond markers and championships highlights its importance as an industry for moving dirty money: 114 billion pesos (mdp) representing 0.4% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the total salaries of the 192,000 jobs that generated 25,400 mdp, according to official data from the Ministry of Finance.

Blue Cross Cooperativists showed their company credentials (Photo: Courtesy)

A former ally of Chapo, involved in Mexican football

Tirso "el footballer" Martínez Sánchez, who worked with the Cártel de Sinaloa founded by Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán, owes his nickname not to the goals scored but to the national league teams he acquired at the beginning of the 21st century in the Mexican league.

"Martínez Sánchez invested a considerable amount in money-laundering companies, with the purchase of professional football equipment and a chain of high-end clothing stores," according with a U.S. Department of Justice document dated 2015.

The teams of Querétaro, Celaya, Irapuato, La Piedad and Mérida are to which Martínez Sánchez injected resources, which he recognized in 2018 by participating as a witness in the Juicio against Joaquín Guzmán.

Tirso Martínez Sánchez stated in 2018 that the profits he made in drug trafficking invested him in the purchase of football equipment (Photo: Twitter @Radio_Formula)

Another example is the team of Venados de Yucatán for which he would pay about $700,000 to acquire it or the 2.2 million he paid for Reboceros de La Piedad, according to the notimex agency cited by the site As.

The operations took place in the first decade of the 21st century and it was in 2006 that the Mexican Football Confederation noticed that Martínez Sánchez owned several franchises and was suspected of participating in the cocaine trafficking business, according to testimony.

The FMF disbursed $14 million to buy Tirso Martínez Sánchez the Querétaro and Irapuato franchises.

"El footballer" worked for the cateles of Sinaloa and Ciudad Juárez between 1995 and 2003. He was extradited in 2015 to the United States and in 2016 pleaded guilty to distributing tons of cocaine, entering the U.S. government's most wanted list, which went on to offer a $5,000,000 reward to anyone who gave information to help find his whereabouts.

AMLO government, go for football cleaning

Mexican football is in the crosshairs of the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador not as a national sport - because it is baseball - but for cleaning it with dirty money and making it a more transparent industry.

The task of doing so is Santiago Nieto, holder of the Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF), which is the Treasury arm to detect operations with illicit money from organized crime.

In November 2019, UIF signed an agreement with Liga MX to exchange information and implement new practices and greater financial control in football franchises.

The Objective of the Collaboration Agreement is to exchange information, implement good practices, a greater financial control of clubs and transparency in the financial activities of the clubs and the players, as well as technical and management bodies, in order to ensure the healthy development of the sport with more followers in the country.

"The aim is to establish (...) cooperation to carry out activities in the field of prevention and detection of acts, omissions or operations that could favor, provide assistance, assistance and cooperation to operations with resources of illicit origin", according to a statement from Liga MX.

Guillermo Alvarez Cuevas reappeared, following the accusations he has received for money laundering (Photo: Screenshot/ Blue Cross)

The UIF asked two months ago to freeze the accounts of Guillermo Alvarez Cuevas, president of the Cruz Azul and director of the Cooperative, Víctor Garcés, former vice president of Cruz Azul, and Alfredo Alvarez Cuevas, director of Strategic Planning, for sospechas de laundering, irregular purchase of players and operation with illicit resources.

The UIF detected irregular trades of more than 1.3 billion pesos to international bank accounts and 300 million pesos that the Cooperative handed over to phantom companies.

The first half of this commitment to cleanse Mexican football runs and Alvarez's testimony will be key to knowing who is behind those resource movements.


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