Alleged cartel money laundering plot leads to arrests
Federal law enforcement agents on Tuesday conducted raids in several states, including New Mexico, and arrested seven people allegedly using the U.S. quarter horse racing industry to launder millions of dollars for one of Mexico’s most powerful drug cartels.
From the Albuquerque Journal:
“One of those arrests occurred at Ruidoso Downs Race Track, and one of the horses the government says was purchased with Los Zetas drug money was Mr. Piloto, winner of the Downs’ 2010 All American Futurity.
“FBI officials said the roundup — which netted Jose Trevino Morales, a brother of the cartel’s No. 2 leader Miguel Angel Trevino Morales — included locations in Oklahoma, Texas and California.
“Seven other suspects remained at large.”
And from the El Paso Times:
“Millions of dollars were run through front companies to conduct transactions in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and California, the indictment says.
“Among the purchases made, according to the indictment, were 13 horses in September 2009 for $546,000; 23 horses in September 2010 in Ruidoso for $2.2 million; five horses in California for $442,000; and 12 horses in January 2011 for $546, 200.
“The indictment says that organization bought the horses from itself at inflated prices using shell companies.
“Among the sales the group is alleged to have made were the sale of a horse named Blues Girls Choice for $102,000; Devil Ridge for $100,000; Number One Cartel for $280,000; and Forty Force for $40,000.”
In a separate article, the El Paso Times said the arrests had sent “powerful aftershocks” through New Mexico’s horseracing community:
The story was first reported by The New York Times, which had been investigating the situation for months. The news organization held its lengthy article until the feds made their arrests. From that article:
“The Treviño brothers devised an elaborate scheme in which Mexican businessmen paid for the horses — some of them worth hundreds of thousands of dollars — from their own bank accounts so the purchases would appear legitimate, according to the affidavit. The Zetas would later reimburse the businessmen, and the horses’ ownership would be transferred to Tremor. The brothers’ activities on either side of the border made for a stark contrast. One week in May began with the authorities pointing fingers at Miguel Ángel Treviño for dumping the bodies of 49 people — without heads, hands or feet — in garbage bags along a busy highway in northern Mexico. The week concluded with José Treviño fielding four Tremor horses in a prestigious race at Los Alamitos Race Course, near Los Angeles.”
You can learn more about Los Zetas here.
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