Feds Bust Cartel Boss' Horse Racing Team

'New York Times' blows lid off Zeta operation
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 12, 2012 1:04 PM CDT
Horses race at All American Futurity in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Ruidoso Downs Racetrack)

(Newser) – Hundreds of federal agents descended on the stables of a New Mexico horse racing company today, busting up what appears to have been a staggeringly transparent drug money laundering operation. Tremor Enterprises was officially owned by brick mason/trucker José Treviño Morales, but was funded by his brother Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales, second-in-command of Mexico's infamous Zeta cartel, the New York Times reports. The business was "so far out there it's hard to believe," a former drug prosecutor says. "Maybe they were using some kind of perverse logic that told them they could hide in plain sight."

When Treviño started the racing firm, "he looked like anyone else interested in quarter horses," says one industry insider. "But he had a massive amount of money with no good explanation where it came from." Still, the stable might have stayed under the radar if it weren't so successful—in three years, it won three of the industry's top races. That's in part thanks to Ramiro Villareal, who had an excellent eye for horses. Or he did, anyway, until the DEA detained him and turned him into an informant in 2010; five months later his charred body was found in a burned car on the highway. The Times, which has been investigating the stable for months, has much more on its history. (Read more Zetas stories.)

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