The brother of one of the bosses of Mexico’s Los Zetas cartel, Miguel Angel Treviño, was arrested together with seven other people in a sweep intended to dismantle a money-laundering ring that operated using race horses, the U.S. Government announced on June 12.
Forty-five-year-old José Treviño Morales, and his 38-year-old wife Zulema, were arrested in Oklahoma (central United States), while the other alleged criminals were arrested on various properties in New Mexico, Texas, and other border states, the U.S, Justice Department announced.
The operation included the seizure of ranches, stables, and quarter horses, a breed of horses native to the United States and highly prized for racing.
A total of 14 people, including José Treviño, cartel boss Miguel Angel, and another brother in the clan, Oscar, were formally charged with money laundering.
The indictment includes the seizure of several of those horses, valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars, which have won millions in prize money in the United States in recent years.
The indictment alleges that Treviño and his associates succeeded in earning at least 20 million dollars through their operations, paradoxically while they were laundering their revenue from drug trafficking in Mexico.
In 2008, cartel boss Miguel Angel Treviño and his brother Oscar began to send money to José, who was living in the United States, so that he could buy property and horses in order to launder money for Los Zetas.
Miguel Angel Treviño or “Zeta-40” is considered the cartel’s second-ranking leader, known for his brutal methods, such as the dismemberment of victims, and also for his passion for horse racing.
His brother José founded a firm known as Tremor, and although he presented himself as a modest immigrant who had family support to buy the horses, he immediately began to cause a sensation in U.S. horse-racing circles, due to his purchases and his victories.
His other brother Miguel Angel, meanwhile, was moving up the ranks in Los Zetas, which is conducting a merciless war against the other cartels in Mexico.
The U.S. newspaper The New York Times stated that Mexican forces came close to arresting Miguel Angel Treviño at a race along the border.
“This investigation reveals the varied attempts by Mexican drug cartels to further their criminal enterprises by any means necessary,” the statement explained.