Photo: Los Zetas Leader Indicted in Money Laundering Scheme
A federal grand jury in the Western District of Texas has returned an indictment charging 14 defendants, including Los Zetas leader Miguel Angel Trevino Morales (aka “40”) and his brothers, Oscar Omar Trevino Morales (aka “42”) and Jose Trevino-Morales, in connection with a conspiracy to launder Los Zetas drug distribution proceeds by purchasing, training, breeding, and racing American quarter horses in the United States.
Earlier today, federal authorities arrested seven of the 14 indicted defendants, including 45-year-old Jose Trevino-Morales and his wife, 38-year-old Zulema Trevino, in Lexington, Oklahoma; 29-year-old Fernando Solis Garcia in Ruidoso, New Mexico; 26-year-old Carlos Miguel Nayen Borbolla, 32-year-old Adan Farias and 28-year-old Felipe Alejandro Quintero in Los Angeles; and 48-year-old Eusevio Maldonado Huitron in Austin, Texas. All seven remain in federal custody. Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, age 38, and Oscar Omar Trevino Morales, age 36, are believed to be in Mexico. Other individuals indicted, but not yet arrested, include: 20-year-old Raul Ramirez of El Paso, Texas; 51-year-old Francisco Antonio Colorado Cessa of Veracruz, Mexico; 31-year-old Victor Manuel Lopez of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico; 40-year-old Sergio Rogelio Guerrero Rincon of Mexico; and 35-year-old Luis Gerardo Aguirre of Mexico.
The announcement was made today by U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman, Richard Weber, Chief, Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-Criminal Investigation; FBI Special Agent in Charge Armando Fernandez; and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Javier Pena.
“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,” stated U.S. Attorney Pitman.
The indictment, returned May 30, 2012 and unsealed today, charges the defendants with one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. According to the indictment, the Los Zetas are a powerful drug cartel in Mexico and generate multi-million-dollar revenues from drug sales. The indictment alleges that since 2008, Miguel and Oscar Trevino Morales would direct portions of the bulk cash generated from the sale of illegal narcotics to Jose and Zulema Trevino for purchasing, training, breeding, and racing American quarter horses in the United States. The indictment identifies millions of dollars worth of transactions in New Mexico, Oklahoma, California, and Texas involving a large number of quarter horses. Jose Trevino, Zulema Trevino, and others used “front” companies to conceal and disguise the true ownership of the quarter horses.
“This investigation reveals the varied attempts by Mexican drug cartels to further their criminal enterprises by any means necessary. As such, the FBI and its partners stand ready to combat all efforts by transnational criminal organizations to undermine our national security wherever and whenever they may be uncovered,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Fernandez.
The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of numerous quarter horses, to include: Tempting Dash, winner of the Dash for Cash at Lone Star Park race track in Grand Prairie, Texas, on October 24, 2009; Mr. Piloto, $1 million All American Futurity winner at Ruidoso Downs on Labor Day 2010; Dashin Follies; Coronita Cartel; and Separate Fire. Furthermore, the indictment seeks the forfeiture of farm and ranch equipment; horse racing equipment; real property in Lexington, Oklahoma and in Bastrop County, Texas; and funds contained in three bank accounts allegedly used in the defendants’ scheme. The indictment also seeks a monetary judgment in the amount of $20 million, representing the amount of money derived from the defendants’ scheme.
“This case is a prime example of the ability of Mexican drug cartels to establish footholds in legitimate U.S. industries and highlights the serious threat money laundering causes to our financial system,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Chief Weber. “This attack on one of the Zeta’s most profitable money laundering schemes is an essential front in the war on drugs and will financially disrupt and help dismantle this violent international criminal organization.”
Upon conviction, the defendants face up to 20 years in federal prison. All of the defendants remain in federal custody at this time.
“Laundering drug proceeds through any financial institution to cover its origin is unlawful.” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Peña. “DEA, along with its counterparts, will continue to investigate drug trafficking and money laundering cases with priority.”
In connection with the indictment, the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has today designated Francisco Antonio Colorado Cessa as a specially designated narcotics trafficker.
“We have found Francisco Colorado Cessa to be materially assisting the narcotics trafficking activities of Los Zetas and its leaders, Miguel and Omar Trevino Morales,” said OFAC Director Adam J. Szubin. “Our action cuts Colorado Cessa off from the U.S. financial system, and it is yet another signal to Miguel and Omar Trevino Morales and the Zetas that OFAC will target their financial and business network wherever it is found. I commend the work of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in its hard-hitting investigation.”