Mexican cartel accused of laundering cash in U.S. horse racing

Tue Jun 12, 2012 11:21pm EDT
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By Jared Taylor

MCALLEN, Texas (Reuters) - Authorities said they arrested seven members of one of Mexico's largest drug cartels on Tuesday and accused them of laundering money in the United States by buying, breeding and racing American racehorses.

The case points to the increasing corrupting influence in the United States of the billion-dollar illegal drug trade across the border in Mexico, an official said.

The leader of Mexico's brutal Zetas drug cartel, Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, and 13 others, including his brothers, used false businesses to conceal the true owners of the horses, according to charges in an indictment unsealed in District Court in Austin on Tuesday.

Federal authorities arrested seven of the 14 defendants in California, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma. They include one of the drug lord's brothers, Jose Trevino Morales and his wife, Zulema Trevino, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, known as "Z-40," and another brother, Oscar Omar Trevino Morales, known as "Z-42," are believed to be at large in Mexico, authorities said.

The Zetas have fought their way to become one of Mexico's two largest drug cartels and have thousands of members across Mexico and into Central America, a vast trafficking network with a stronghold in Nuevo Laredo, across the Rio Grande from Texas.

Its key business is smuggling cocaine, heroin, marijuana and crystal meth into the United States, but the cartel is also involved in extortion, kidnapping, oil theft and other crimes.

Court papers said the Zetas poured millions of dollars in proceeds from drug trafficking into the purchase, training and racing of American quarter horses in New Mexico, Oklahoma, California and Texas since 2008. Quarter horses are a special breed trained to sprint short distances.   Continued...