The Drug Enforcement Administration is reportedly investigating the charity organization of global soccer superstar Lionel Messi for possible ties to a Mexican drug cartel.
According to Spanish newspaper El Mundo, Messi and Friends, a string of charity matches throughout Latin America organized by the Leo Messi Foundation, is suspected of laundering money for the notorious Valencia cartel. Players who participate in the charity matches may also be making untaxed income by charging money to appear in the matches, and the money raised may not always reach the non-profits it was pledged to.
This latest investigation is not Messi’s first brush with the law. Last October, the Argentine captain was ordered to stand trial for tax evasion after he and his father, who manages his money, were accused of hiding $6 million in taxes from the Spanish government by using companies in Belize and Uruguay to sell the rights to his image. Though he and his father later paid back taxes and interest, Messi could face up to six years in prison if convicted.
Messi rakes in some $65 million a year, collecting $42 million a year from Spanish club FC Barcelona and the rest from lucrative sponsorship deals with Pepsi, Adidas, and Turkish Airlines.