The alleged leader of the violent Mexican Zetas drug cartel has been charged in a federal indictment with laundering millions through the U.S. quarter horse industry, according to the Austin American-Statesman
Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, believed to be a leader of the Zetas and already under indictment on U.S. drug trafficking charges, remains a fugitive with a $5 million reward on his head in Mexico.
The indictment alleges that the Zetas and 14 other cartel members laundered millions of dollars in drug profits by channeling the money through straw men and front organizations to buy and train quarter horses, a popular racing breed in the West.
The fraudulent owners then used forged documents to sell horses that won high-stakes races or were valued for their breeding potential to Trevino or companies he controlled. The documents backdated the sale to show Trevino had purchased the highly profitable horses for a minimal investment before their worth was established.
“The allegations in this indictment, if proven, would document yet another example of the corrupting influence of Mexican drug cartels within the United States, facilitated by the enormous profits generated by the illicit drug trade,” U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman said.
Seven suspects named in the indictment, which was unsealed in U.S. District Court in Austin on Tuesday, have been arrested in raids in Texas, Oklahoma, and California.
Among them was Trevino’s brother, Jose Trevino Morales, who is accused of directing the money laundering operation. He was arrested in Oklahoma. A third brother, Oscar Omar Trevino Morales, also was charged in the indictment but remains at-large in Mexico.
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