Feds Say Cartel Laundered Cash Through Horse Racing Operation. In Balch Springs of All Places

Horse racing may be a dying sport,, but it's apparently enough of a going concern to be used by Mexico's most powerful cartel to launder millions in drug profits.

According to an indictment unsealed yesterday, Los Zetas, the notoriously ruthless organization that effectively controls large swaths of Mexican territory and does things like this, has been using proceeds from the sale of marijuana, cocaine, etc. in the U.S. to purchase, breed, and train American Quarter Horses. This wasn't so much a hobby, the feds say, as a way to pretend that large amounts of cash belonging to Los Zetas were, in fact, legitimate racing proceeds.

At the center of the operation was Jose Trevino Morales, the brother of Los Zetas leaders Miguel Angel Trevino Morales and Oscar Omar Trevino Morales (a.k.a. 40 and 42, based on their rank when the cartel originally formed), who ran a quarter horse empire from, until recently, Balch Springs.

According to the indictment, Jose Trevino Morales would purchase quarter horses that were registered under fictitious names to disguise his brothers' stake. The horses, too, were given fictitious names like Number One Cartel, because who would suspect a criminal mastermind would be so stupid as to name his horse that?

Jose and several others named in the indictment have been arrested. Miguel and Omar have not.

So while the Los Zetas continue to indiscriminately slaughter people south of the border and bring gajillions of pounds of illegal narcotics north, the feds are going after them for money laundering. Very Al Capone. Whatever sticks, I guess.

Trevino Indictment

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson