What do Houston's soccer teams, a money launderer, and the founder of the Guadalajara Cartel have in common? Well, as it turns out, they all have a business relationship with BBVA Compass Bank. Compass sponsors the stadium where the Dynamo and Dash both play, of course. And, as it turns out, Compass has also maintained accounts for two drug kingpins who have been sanctioned by the government's Office of Foreign Assets Control.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control is a subset of the Department of the Treasury, responsible for administering and enforcing economic and trade sanctions based on America's foreign policy and national security interests against targeted foreign countries and regimes, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and other threats to the national security, foreign policy or economy of the United States. Pretty important stuff, y'all.
Anyhow, the United States has been engaged in something called the War On Drugs since, well, before Alexi Lalas looked like this. One of the weapons in their arsenal has been the Kingpin Act, which empowers the OFAC to cut off drug traffickers from the American financial system once they are "designated" by the OFAC as the bad guys. Under the Kingpin Act, any banks that hold funds for a designated individual must freeze their assets or face some very serious consequences. The OFAC hands out fines and criminal charges the way Baldomero Toledo hands out red cards: with wanton abandon and unfettered glee (subject to its statutory authority and the constraints of due process, of course.)
Apparently, Compass never got the memo. From June 12, 2013 to June 3, 2014, Compass maintained accounts on behalf of two individuals on OFAC's naughty list: Mauricio Sanchez Garza and Hilda Riebeling Cordero. They're members of the Sanchez Garza family, which is based in Guadalajara and involved in money laundering operations on behalf of Rafael Cara Quintero, also on the naughty list. If that name sounds familiar, it's because he is allegedly responsible for the brutal torture and murder of DEA agent Enrique Camarena back in 1985. Real nice guy, this Rafael. At the time of OFAC's designations, Compass maintained separate accounts for and on behalf of Mauricio Sanchez Garza and Hilda Riebeling Cordero. Compass failed to identify and block these accounts, the government got wind of it, and today, Compass was slapped with what the OFAC terms a "Finding of Violation".
A Finding of Violation is little more than a slap on the wrist and a public shaming. However, it does put Compass on the OFAC's radar, and any further slip-ups could lead to fines hefty enough to cripple the bank, not to mention criminal charges. Even if this has no immediate effect on the bank's operations - and by extension, its sponsorship of Houston's stadium - it's still not a particularly good look. In a time when fans have been so vocal in their opposition to the unsavory undercurrents of the business of the beautiful game, it's hard to believe they would not be just a tad uneasy with the association, however tangential, of their stadium and sponsor with individuals the government labels "narcotics kingpins."