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Zetas Cartel Accused of Laundering Money With Horses

June 13, 2012  | 

A federal grand jury has indicted Los Zetas cartel members in a conspiracy to launder drug proceeds by purchasing, training, breeding, and racing American quarter horses in the United States.

The indictment named 14 defendants, including cartel leader Miguel Angel Trevino Morales and his brothers Oscar Omar Trevino Morales and Jose Trevino-Morales. Jose Trevino-Morales was among the seven arrested Tuesday. Miguel is believed to be in Mexico.

"The allegations in this indictment, if proven, would document yet another example of the corrupting influence of Mexican drug cartels within the United States, facilitated by the enormous profits generated by the illicit drug trade," stated U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman.

The indictment accuses Miguel and Oscar Trevino Morales of funneling cash generated from the sale of illegal narcotics to Jose and wife Zulema Trevino to purchase, train, breed, and race American quarter horses in the United States. The indictment identifies millions of dollars of transactions in New Mexico, Oklahoma, California, and Texas since 2008. Jose Trevino-Morales, Zulema Trevino, and others used front companies to conceal and disguise the true ownership of the quarter horses.

The federal government is attempting to seize quarter horses such as Tempting Dash, winner of the Dash for Cash at Lone Star Park race track in Grand Prairie, Texas, on October 24, 2009; Mr. Piloto, $1 million All American Futurity winner at Ruidoso Downs on Labor Day 2010; Dashin Follies; Coronita Cartel; and Separate Fire.

Other potentially forfeited assets include farm and ranch equipment; horse racing equipment; real property in Lexington, Okla., and in Bastrop County, Texas; and funds contained in three bank accounts allegedly used in the defendants' scheme. The indictment also seeks a monetary judgment in the amount of $20 million, representing the amount of money derived from the defendants' scheme.

If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in federal prison.

In connection with the indictment, the Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has today designated Francisco Antonio Colorado Cessa as a specially designated narcotics trafficker.

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