MEXICO CITY — Mexican norteno singer Julio Cesar Alvarez said Thursday he knew suspected drug trafficker Raul Flores Hernandez, but only as a businessman and the owner of a club where he performed.

The U.S. Treasury Department says the singer, better known as “Julion” Alvarez, acted as a frontman and held assets for Flores Hernandez.

The department placed Alvarez on a list of people sanctioned under the Kingpin Act. The sanctions freeze all U.S. assets of the people and entities named and forbid U.S. citizens from doing business with them.

Alvarez said he met Flores Hernandez after he was contracted to sing at a club he owned.

“I know him as a businessman … I never had his cell phone number,” Alvarez said.

The popular singer denied any wrongdoing. “I am a very honest person.”

Asked about Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s decision to delete a photo of him and Alvarez from his Instagram account, the singer responded: “I want to put a good face on the taking down of that photo, so as not to affect the boy,” apparently referring to the president.

The photo showed Alvarez and Pena Nieto on a trip to Chiapas, the singer’s home state.