Four members of a powerful Mexican drug cartel - Los Zetas - were convicted
in federal court Friday in Austin, Texas for using drug profits since 2008 to purchase, train,
breed and race American quarter horses in the United States, according to the U.S.
Federal officials said jurors convicted 46-year-old Balch Springs,
Texas resident Jose Trevino Morales, the brother of purported Los Zetas
leaders; Miguel Trevino Morales, also known as "40", and Oscar Omar Trevino
Morales, whose moniker is "42", as well as 52-year-old Mexican businessman
Francisco Colorado Cessa, 30-year-old horse trainer.
Also convicted was purchasing agent Fernando Solis Garcia, and
49-year-old horse trainer Eusevio Maldonado Huitron of one count of conspiracy
to commit money laundering.
During the 12-day trial, evidence revealed that Los Zetas are a
powerful drug cartel based in Mexico and generate multi-million-dollar revenues
from drug trafficking.
Since 2008, Miguel and Oscar Trevino Morales would direct portions
of the bulk cash generated from the sale of illegal narcotics to Jose Trevino
and his wife, Zulema Trevino, for purchasing, training, breeding, and racing American
quarter horses in the United States.
Testimony also revealed a shell game by the defendants involving
straw purchasers and transactions worth millions of dollars in New Mexico,
Oklahoma, California, and Texas to disguise the source drug money and make the
proceeds from the sale of quarter horses or their race winnings appear
Furthermore, federal official stated that the defendants
implemented a scheme to structure cash deposits in amounts under $10,000 in
order to circumvent mandatory bank reporting requirements.
More than 400 quarter horses seized by federal authorities in June
as part of the above mentioned money laundering operation have been sold for
approximately $9 million.
Most of the horses were sold at Heritage Place Auction Facility in
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in the past year including A Dash of Sweet Heat, which
sold for $1 million.
Approximately 100 broodmares were sold prior to auction for
The federal government still retains possession of nine quarter
horses, including Tempting Dash, winner of the Dash for Cash at Lone Star Park
race track in Grand Prairie, Texas, on October 24, 2009, according to
Also Mr. Piloto, $1 million All American Futurity winner at
Ruidoso Downs on Labor Day, 2010; Dashin Follies; Separate Fire; and Y516, a
yearling seized on Zule Farms in Lexington, Oklahoma, federal officials stated.
"This trial documented the violence, brutality, and corruption
generated by Mexican drug cartels--in this case the particularly ruthless Los
Zetas. The government was able to show how the corrupting influence of drug
cartels has extended into the United States with cartel bosses using an
otherwise legitimate domestic industry to launder proceeds from drug
trafficking and other crimes," stated U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman.
Authorities continue to seek the apprehension of seven
co-defendants in this case.