Texas Father-son Duo Who Used Horse Racing as Front for Massive Drug Operation Plead Guilty

A South Texas father and son admitted Monday to using a horse-racing operation to smuggle marijuana in a drug-trafficking enterprise involving violence, bribery and corruption.Raul Beltran Jr., 50, and his son Edward Beltran, 24, each pleaded guilty to a federal count of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute.Officials said the Beltrans used their horse ranches in Rio Grande City as bases to receive marijuana, then repackage and conceal thousands of kilograms of the drug in trailers before shipping it north. They also used horse racing to launder the operation's proceeds, authorities said.An investigation found that Beltrans had dealings with members of the Gulf and Zeta cartels, among other groups, according to federal officials.The drug-trafficking ring used violence, intimidation and bribery to continue operations for nearly a decade “with virtual impunity,” the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement. Twenty-two people, including a former Starr County deputy, have been convicted as part of the investigation. Authorities have seized three horse ranches and a race stallion named Jet Black Patriot.Sentencing for the Beltrans, who each face up to life in prison, is set for June 3.  Continue reading...

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