According to testimony from Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s trial, there’s been at last two recorded links between the Sinaloa Cartel and professional soccer teams in Mexico.
Tirso Martinez, a trafficker that worked for El Chapo for more than a decade, revealed on Monday how he used drug money to buy soccer teams in Mexico. Among the teams purchased were sides Club de Fútbol La Piedad and Venados de Yucatan. Martinez was eventually bought out by the Mexican Federation in 2006 when his identity was discovered, as reported by VICE News reporter Keegan Hamilton.
We got more details of soccer teams owned by Martinez aka El Futbolista. They included:— Keegan Hamilton (@keegan_hamilton) December 11, 2018
-Los Venados de Yucatan, bought for ~$600-700K
-La Piedad, bought for $2.2M, sold in 2004 for $10M
Mexican soccer federation bought him out in 2006 for $10M after discovering his identity.
The news falls in line with several controversial events leading up to the 2002 sale of La Piedad’s franchise to Querétaro, which according to Mexican newspaper Reforma was still under control of Martinez during the time of the team’s relocation. Coincidentally, Querétaro was relegated from Liga MX in 2004 after the league decided to cut their number of teams from 20 to 18.
Unfortunately, these type of occurrences don’t come as a surprise to many. In the past, former ownership of clubs like Club León and Santos Laguna, as well as current Liga MX agents, have been linked to organized crime. Most recently, former Mexico National Team international Rafael Marquez was part of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Treasury Department for alleged business ties with an individual aligned with the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels.