GUADALAJARA — Mexican national team defender Rafael Marquez announced his retirement from fútbol today, telling a press conference he is ready to commit more time to his budding drug-trafficking career and scaling the hierarchy of the Sinaloa and/or Jalisco New Generation drug cartels.
Marquez, whose decorated career includes a stint with Barcelona FC and an on-field assassination attempt on former U.S. forward Cobi Jones during the 2002 World Cup, said the time had come to walk away from the game and fulfill a lifelong dream of distributing narcotics to international end users. Since the U.S. Treasury Department statement in August linking Marquez to drug kingpin Raúl Flores, the celebrated center back has felt torn between a waning passion for soccer and the exorbitant financial riches awaiting him as a Mexican drug baron, he said.
“It’s not easy to be a part-time footballer, part-time contributor to an international crime and drug syndicate,” said a teary-eyed Marquez, interrupted by several calls on his four cell phones during the conference. “It’s hard to focus on an international friendly against Belgium when you have to coordinate a 2-ton shipment of ecstasy pills to Chicago on the same day. At some point, you realize it’s time to follow your heart.”
Marquez said the commitment to both vocations had become increasingly stressful in recent weeks since being outed as an active member of a cartel. Things were made even more challenging after his mother’s drug mansion was seized last month as part of the on-going investigation, he said.
“That was the drug mansion I grew up in,” he said. “An entire basement full of unmarked bills and sheets of acid, poof, gone from one day to the next. You can never get those memories back.”
Marquez said he is looking forward to his life post-fútbol and to spending more time with drug ring friends La Serpiente, La Lechuga and Los Munchies. With hard work, focus and full-time dedication to global narcotics dissemination, the sky is the limit, he said.
“I scored in the World Cup, played with Messi and was on the national team for like three decades,” Marquez said. “Ascending within the Mexican drug circuit will be easier than playing in the MLS.”