It's amazing that Mexico's Zetas drug cartel managed to launder money through as huge a U.S. horse-racing operation as it allegedly did for as long as it allegedly did, seeing as how one of its horses was named Number One Cartel. There are all kinds of little clues like that in Ginger Thompson's massive New York Times story on Mexican drug money in quarter horse racing that make the cartel involvement sound pretty obvious.
But investigators need time to build a case, and as they did so for the last two-and-a-half years, the high-ranking Zetas cartel member Angel Treviño, and his brother José, reportedly became a major force in the quarter horse scene through their breeding operation Tremor Enterprises. A Justice Department affidavit, prepared in advance of a major raid on their Oklahoma ranch Tuesday, said they spent $1 million a month on quarter horses in the United States, Thompson wrote. They tipped off the feds in January, 2010, when they spent $1 million in one day buying two broodmares, but "the buzz around Tremor’s winnings and acquisitions began three years ago, when José Treviño bought an estimated $3 million in quarter horses, including one named Number One Cartel." That does seem like a red flag.
The story, which details the brothers' ascendancy over quarter horse racing as well as a gruesome alleged murder, and how to sneak horses across the border, is well worth a read in full.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.