Mexican Drug Lords Launder Money Through Horse Racing, U.S. Government Alleges

Illustration for article titled Mexican Drug Lords Launder Money Through Horse Racing, U.S. Government Alleges

There's a lot that's terribly shadowy and evil about the sport of horse racing, from the dead horses on set at HBO's Luck to the dead horses at the Aqueduct to the dead horses really anywhere horses race.


But today's bad horse racing news is, for a change, not about dead horses but about live ones with an attached death toll. Miguel Angel Trevino is second in command of the feared Mexican Zetas, and his older brother, Jose, a Ruidoso, N.M., resident, raises prize-winning quarterhorses. You can see where this is going, according to the U.S. government's account of things.

Here's the New York Times:

[T]he Treviño brothers, managed to establish a prominent horse breeding operation, Tremor Enterprises, in the United States that allowed them to launder millions of dollars in drug money, according to current and former federal law enforcement officials.

Using Miguel Ángel Treviño's cash, José Treviño's legal residency and Mr. Villarreal's eye for a good horse, Tremor bought a sprawling ranch in Oklahoma and an estimated 300 stallions and mares. The Treviño brothers might have kept their operation quiet, given the criminal connection, but their passion for horses and winning apparently proved too tempting. In the short span of three years, Tremor won three of the industry's biggest races, with prizes totaling some $2.5 million.

The business was "so far out there it's hard to believe," said Morris Panner, a former prosecutor who handled drug cases, and officials said it amounted to a foothold in the United States for one of Mexico's most dangerous criminal networks. "Maybe they were using some kind of perverse logic that told them they could hide in plain sight, precisely because people wouldn't believe it or question it," Mr. Panner said.

The Justice Department moved against Tremor on Tuesday morning, dispatching several helicopters and hundreds of law enforcement agents to the company's stables in Ruidoso and its ranch in Oklahoma. Jose Treviño and several associates were taken into custody and were expected to be charged later in the day, authorities said.

Mexican Cartel Hides Millions in Horse Races, U.S. Alleges [NYT]