Austin Horse Trainer Sentenced to Federal Prison in Multi-Million-Dollar Money Laundering Conspiracy Involving Los Zetas Drug Trafficking Proceeds, Extortion, and Bribery
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 06, 2013|
In Austin, Eusevio Maldonado Huitron, a 50-year-old horse trainer residing in Austin, was sentenced this morning to 97 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for his role in a complex conspiracy to launder millions of dollars in illicit Los Zetas drug trafficking proceeds to purchase, train, breed, and race American quarter horses in the United States announced United States Attorney Robert Pitman; FBI Special Agent in Charge Armando Fernandez; Richard Weber, Chief, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation; and DEA Special Agent in Charge Javier Pena.
United States District Judge Sam Sparks this morning also sentenced co-defendant Raul Ramirez, age 21 of El Paso, Texas, to one year plus one day in federal prison after pleading guilty prior to trial to the conspiracy charge. Other co-defendants who pleaded guilty to various federal charges prior to trial received probation sentences today including: Zulema Trevino, age 39 (three years); Alexandra Garcia Trevino, age 22, of Oceanside, California (two years); 33-year-old horse trainer Adan Farias of Norco, California (three years); and 29–year-old Felipe Alejandro Quintero of Los Alamitos, California (three years). Judge Sparks also ordered that Farias, Quintero, and Ramirez each pay a $3,600 fine. Sentencing for 27-year-old Carlos Miguel Nayen Borbolla of Santa Anna, California, was postponed.
Yesterday, Judge Sparks sentenced 46-year-old Jose Trevino Morales of Balch Springs, Texas, and Francisco Colorado Cessa, a 52-year-old Veracruz, Mexico businessman, each to 240 months in federal prison; and, Fernando Solis Garcia, a 30-year-old horse trainer and purchasing agent from Ruidoso, New Mexico, to 160 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for their roles in the money laundering scheme. Jose Trevino Morales is the brother of purported Los Zetas leaders, Miguel Trevino Morales (aka “40”), and Oscar Omar Trevino Morales (aka “42”).
On May 9, 2013, a federal jury convicted Jose Trevino Morales, Francisco Colorado Cessa, Fernando Solis Garcia, and Eusevio Maldonado Huitron of one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Evidence presented during trial revealed that Los Zetas are a powerful drug cartel based in Mexico and generate multi-million-dollar revenues from drug trafficking. Since 2008, Miguel and Oscar Trevino Morales would direct portions of the bulk cash generated from the sale of illegal narcotics to Jose Trevino and his wife, Zulema Trevino, for purchasing, training, breeding, and racing American quarter horses in the United States.
Testimony also revealed a shell game by the defendants involving straw purchasers and transactions worth millions of dollars in New Mexico, Oklahoma, California, and Texas to disguise the source drug money and make the proceeds from the sale of quarter horses or their race winnings appear legitimate. Furthermore, the defendants implemented a scheme to structure cash deposits in amounts under $10,000 in order to circumvent mandatory bank reporting requirements.
Over 400 quarter horses (which were seized by federal authorities in June 2012 as part of the above-mentioned money laundering operation) have been sold for approximately $9 million. Most of the horses were sold at Heritage Place Auction Facility in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in the past year including A Dash of Sweet Heat, which sold for $1 million. Approximately 100 broodmares were sold prior to auction for approximately $35,000. The federal government still retains possession of five quarter horses, including 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; Separate Fire; Y516, a yearling seized in Lexington, OK; and four embryos transferred from donor mares Dashin Follies and Separate Fire.
U.S. Attorney Pitman noted that the proceeds from the sale of these quarter horses are being held in escrow pending the resolution of a forfeiture action. The government also seeks the forfeiture of real property in Lexington, Oklahoma; farm and ranch equipment located at that site; and funds contained in multiple bank accounts allegedly used in the defendants’ scheme. The government also seeks a monetary judgment in the amount of $60 million representing property involved in and derived from the conspiracy.
Authorities continue to seek the apprehension of seven co-defendants in this case including purported leaders of the Los Zetas, Miguel Trevino Morales (aka “40”) and his brother, 39-year-old Oscar Trevino Morales (aka “42”), as well as 32–year-old Victor Manuel Lopez, 41-year-old Sergio Guerrero Rincon, 41-year-old Luis Gerardo Aguirre, Erick Jovan Lozano Diaz, and Gerardo Garza Quintero.
This investigation was conducted by agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration, with assistance from the United States Marshals Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, as well as local law enforcement agents in Irving, Lorena, Bruceville-Eddy, Fort Worth, and Laredo, Texas. The investigation received assistance from the Texas Army National Guard, Cleveland County (Oklahima) Sheriff’s Office, and the Oklahoma and New Mexico Racing Commissions. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas prosecuted several members of the Los Zetas drug cartel on drug trafficking charges related to this conspiracy and provided substantial assistance to this investigation. The U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) provided assistance with the forfeiture action in this case.