Rafa Marquez is in the middle of yet another mess (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)

Former Red Bulls central defender-midfielder Rafa Marquez is in the middle of yet another controversy. But this one is off the field.

The Mexican international and Atlas player has been accused of associating with the Flores Drug trafficking organization. That group is headed by Raul Flores, who also known as “El Tio.”

The 38-year-old Marquez was one of 21 Mexicans and 42 businesses who had their assets frozen for their association with Flores. They were accused of working with the leaders of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel and Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion.

The proceedings marked the largest action against a Mexican drug cartel network that the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has designated.

The Treasury Department said that Mexican singer Julion Alvarez and Marquez “have longstanding relationships with Flores Hernandez, and have acted as front persons for him and his DTO and held assets on their behalf.”

Marquez doesn’t face criminal charges, but the sanctions meant his assets under U.S. jurisdiction or are in the control of U.S. persons were frozen. U.S. citizens usually are banned from engaging in transactions with them.

In a statement, Marquez denied the charges in a press conference on Wednesday night.

Marquez, who played with the Red Bulls from 2010-2012, hopes to play in his fifth World Cup at Russia 2018.

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Guardian.com. Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of BigAppleSoccer.com. He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at Amazon.com.