Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Zetas Trial to Start Monday in Money Laundering Racehorse Case

Borderland Beat

Juan Lazano-Houston AP
One of Mexico's most powerful and violent drug cartels intended a racehorse-buying operation to be a clandestine means of laundering its illegal proceeds in the United States, prosecutors say.
But with the millions of dollars spent — sometimes in the form of duffel bags stuffed with cash — on horses named with names such as Number One Cartel and Mr. Ease Cartel, it wasn't long before authorities learned of the alleged scheme and reined it in.
The federal investigation resulted in indictments last year against 18 individuals. Now, at least four of the accused in the money laundering scheme, including the brother of two of the top leaders of the Zetas drug cartel, are set to go on trial Monday in an Austin federal courtroom.
The trial, which could last up to six weeks, is expected to offer insight into the internal workings of the Zetas, as well as highlight what some cartel experts say was a rookie mistake by an organized crime outfit: drawing attention to yourself.
"It's just sort of flashy, ostentatious behavior that is not smart if you are involved in organized crime," Howard Campbell, a professor of anthropology at the University of Texas at El Paso who has studied drug cartels, said of the racehorse-buying operation's high profile.
Federal authorities have accused Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, believed to now be the leader of the Zetas drug operation, of setting up the horse operation that his younger brother, Jose Trevino Morales, ran from a sprawling ranch near Lexington, Okla. The operation spent millions of dollars buying horses in California, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, prosecutors said.
Authorities allege Jose Trevino Morales and his wife, who had lived in North Texas before moving to Oklahoma, did not have the means to support the ranch operation, which bought, trained, bred and raced quarter horses throughout the Southwest, and that drug money paid for everything.
Neighbors said those who worked with the ranch spent lots of cash, bought land and made improvements at a time when others in the industry were struggling financially.
Workers at the Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino in New Mexico said Jose Trevino Morales' stables were known as the "Zetas' stables."
The U.S. Attorney's Office in San Antonio, which is handling the case, declined to comment on Friday about the trial.
Jose Trevino Morales' attorney, David Finn, said his client is not guilty of money laundering, describing him as a hard-working person who learned to raise horses while growing up on a ranch in Mexico.

"This is not about Jose Trevino Morales and his family. This is about his brothers and their alleged criminal activity in Mexico," Finn said. "He is not involved in any Zeta activity ... They couldn't get the brothers so they are focusing on my client."
Miguel Angel Trevino Morales and another brother alleged to be a top Zetas leader, Oscar Omar Trevino Morales, were also indicted. But they — along with five others also charged — remain at large. Three others indicted have pleaded guilty, including Jose Trevino Morales' wife and daughter.
Campbell said while the racehorse-buying operation might have been a creative way to launder money, it was also "really stupid because it was so public."
"The smarter people launder money more discreetly," he said.
Campbell attributed the mistake to the Zetas' relative inexperience as an independent drug trafficking group. Originally a band of assassins made up of ex-special forces soldiers from the Mexican Army, the Zetas worked for the Gulf Cartel before splitting off in 2010.
The Zetas, known for beheading rivals, have been blamed for some of Mexico's most shocking atrocities and mass killings.
"The Zetas seem to be a little more out of control and not as sort of hip to how they should operate in order to avoid getting caught," Campbell said. "They've learned their lesson in this case."
George W. Grayson, an expert on Mexican politics and drug cartels at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., said the Zetas might have been drawn to the idea of using a horse-buying operation because of their love of such animals, especially thoroughbreds.
"With horses and laundering money, you have a daily double on which they thought they couldn't lose," said Grayson, who co-authored "The Executioner's Men: Los Zetas, Rogue Soldiers, Criminal Entrepreneurs and the Shadow State They Created."
Campbell called the upcoming trial a "slam dunk" for prosecutors, citing the extensive evidence.
Grayson said he doesn't think the shutting down of the horse-buying operation was a major blow to the Zetas' operations.
"It's a thorn in their side but not a dagger in their heart," Grayson said.

Chivis:    The video depicts the ownership change.  the Original owner of Tempting Dash Jose Villareal was murdered in Mexico directly before ownership change to Trevino.  The jockey and trainer also went with Trevino. In the video at around 1:55 there is a brief interview with Jose Trevino.
Many trials are now streamed live.  If any readers discovers  a website, usually state or region, that is streaming the trial please let us all know and give us a link.
Hopefully the trial will not have another postponement, if they do that is a good indicator a deal is being made and near.  If it commences tomorrow, I will attempt to access updates. 


  1. Jose looks a bit like Lord Voldemort in the fourth picture.

  2. What do you guys think is the worst thing Miguel Trevino has ever done?

    1. Kill three months old babies.

  3. Too cocky,naming horses after what their affiliated with,what were they thinking?

    1. wonder chapo makin that money and not getting caught

  4. I read the US something (whatever it is who seized the property) are now in business with the horses, sold a bunch of them and selling sperm from one, isn't it odd though that this is done before the trial? I have no problem whatsoever with the zetas' horses being seized and sold, I just thought it couldn't be done til the trial was over, I know I'm missing something, does anyone know?

  5. there's no way that retard is going to beat the good ole boys !!! do they serve rice and beans in 23 hour lock up?

  6. That would have been incredible if one of these zeta horses had won the triple crown by winning horse racing most prestigious races: Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes. They'll probably end up in some dogs' bowls now instead. Just joking you animal rights activist! Mr. José Treviño is going to bite the bullet on this one. I doubt he'll accept a plea bargain and turn on his brothers by snitching on them. So unless his lawyer pulls a rabbit out of his hat, he will get the book thrown at him.

  7. How about the rest of the Zetas in the video of the horse races? How many of those are still funding their campaign of death from the U.S.? Their photos need to be published so they can also be reported and do time for their crimes.

  8. ..., HOLA, K TAL CHIVITA?!! Santa Josefina!, cOmo has estado?!!

    Salva no se olvida de ti: k dios te bendiga

    Apreciamos muchísimo lo k tratas hacer para la humanidad, ...

    You are the 8th wonder of the earth!! Long Live Chivita!

    Final words: very super-interesante web site this Borderland Beat online 'happening' place that is Very Versatile ...

    chau chau

  9. Wat country! Gun control an all!

  10. April 14, 2013 at 6:42 PM They didn't name the horses. The name of the horse was made by the original owners, remember that most of the famous horses the got from some one else.

  11. @9:17 I assume there's some context to your comment?

  12. He will be out in a yr or two, this trial will show what money can buy in the USA

    1. I doubt that.they want his brother too bad.they are going to make an example out of him cause of it.i think theyll keep him there for a long time or until he starts talking

  13. Here in Nuevo Laredo everyone knows that José Villarreal was killed by Miguel Treviño Morales aka z40 to take ownership of several race horses. Mr. Villarreal's body was found inside a burned out car.

  14. How about all the"legitimate"white collars who dealt with them and took their money?Are they culpable for anything?The ones who get away with shit all the time?

    1. If they knew i say yea lock um up but if some of them didnt know i say no

  15. Anyone hear about a shoot outside of Acuna Friday? Some bass fisherman on Amisted told me it went on all day and friend with family over there said they heard a few Marines KA and many hoods killed.

  16. I'm going to go out on a limb here and expect that he will not be punished according to the murderous crimes he is responsible for. I suspect either money (paying off greedy texas lawyers) or fear (threatening officials like they do in MX) will see this filthy scumbag out well before his time.

  17. chinga tu madre z40 ya te están acorralando tu hermano ya empezó a pagar ya no tienes los caballos ni el rancho y van por todo jajaja

  18. Cooking enemy's alive in drums is worst thing he's done.

  19. Well hes definitely on the one way express straight to hell thats for sure


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