quarter horses uses to launder profits
The leader of the murderous Los Zetas Mexican drug gang is charged in an indictment with pouring some of the massive profits the cartel gains from its international drug operations into the American quarter horse industry, 1200 WOAI's Michael Board reports.
The indictment charges Miguel Angel Trevino-Morales, 45, and 13 of his fellow drug gang leaders with setting up phone front companies to purchase dozens of race horses, including Tempting Dash, the winner of the 2009 'Dash for Cash' at Lone Star Park race track in Grand Prairie in 2009, 'Mr. Piloto,' the $1 million futurity winner at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico in 2020,' 'Dashin' Follies,' 'Coronita Cartel,' and 'Separate Fire.'
The indictment demands that the horses be seized along with ranches in Oklahoma and near Bastrop Texas, where the horses are allegedly stabled. The indictment also seeks a financial penalty of $20 million, the amount of money the cartel made from racing the horses.
"This case is a prime example of the ability of Mexican drug cartels to establish footholds in legitimate U.S. industries and highlights the serious threat money laundering causes to our financial system," said Richard Weber, the Chief of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, which helped crack the case. "This attack on one of the Zetas' most profitable money laundering schemes is an essential front in the war on drugs, and will financially disrupt and help dismantle this violent international criminal organization."
Los Zetas was founded in 1999 by a group of Mexican Army deserters who signed on to provide 'muscle' and 'protection' to leaders of the Gulf Cartel. In the intervening years, Los Zetas, Spanish for 'the zeros,' has split with the Gulf Cartel, and has become a major narcotics trafficking organization in its own right. The Zetas are believed to be responsible for the bulk of the drug violence in northern Mexico in the past six years which has killed an estimated 40,000 people.
The Texas based American Quarter Horse Association says it is shocked by the revelation.
"This is a very isolated incident," spokesman Jim Brett Campbell told 1200 WOAI news. "We will certainly work closely with investigators to make sure the sport does maintain its integrity.'
Seven of the 14 people named in the indictments, including Trevino-Morales, are in federal custody. Trevino-Morales was arrested along with his wife, Zulema Trevino, 38, at their home at the horse ranch in Lexington Oklahoma.
The indictment also charges that Trevino-Morales has killed his way to the top of Los Zetas. The indictment spells out how Trevino-Morales and their cohorts divide their territory, smuggle huge quantities of cocaine, marijuana, and other drugs into the United States, distribute the drugs, and invest the profits in a series of phony companies. The indictment 'follows the money,' relating how drug profits were used at various quarter horse auctions to buy, stable, and race the animals.
"This certainly is not endemic in the sports, and this is certainly not something you'll find at every one of our 38 race tracks that run American quarter horses," Campbell said.