FBI: Balch Springs Man Laundered Cartel's Drug Money in Horse Racing

Raid on North Texas house tied to violent Mexican drug cartel

The FBI raided a house in Balch Springs and arrested its owner as part of an investigation into a Mexican drug cartel's involvement in American quarter horse racing.

The home is owned by Jose Trevino-Morales, whose brothers are leaders of Los Zetas, the FBI said in a search warrant.

Jose Trevino was arrested Tuesday at his Oklahoma ranch, which was also raided.

"Jose Trevino is part of an ongoing criminal enterprise," an FBI agent wrote in the search warrant.

The Zetas laundered $1 million per month in American horse racing over at least the past two years, the FBI said.

An indictment unsealed Tuesday said millions of dollars went through the operation, which bought, trained, bred and raced quarter horses throughout the southwest United States, including the famed Ruidoso Downs track in New Mexico.

A neighbor who said she was too afraid to identify herself said Trevino lived in the home for several years with his wife and several children until they recently got involved in horse racing and moved to an Oklahoma ranch. FBI agents arrested Trevino was arrested at his ranch south of Oklahoma City.

Dallas County tax records show Trevino bought the Balch Springs house in the 12900 block of Timothy Lane in 2001.

The search warrant of the residence paints a violent portrait of the Zeta drug cartel, which controls drug trafficking in vast areas of Mexico.

In a 2010 conversation with an FBI informant, Jose Trevino's brother Omar claimed he had personally killed more than 1,000 people and that his brother Miguel had killed more than 2,000, the FBI said.

Asked how he knew the exact number, Omar Trevino said, "they just kept record of it," the FBI said in the warrant.

The indictment describes how the Trevino brothers and a network quietly arranged to purchase quarter horses with drug money at auction and disguise the source of the funds used to buy them so that the Zetas' involvement would be masked. They would often pay in cash or use fake names, which helped keep the owners and the money a secret.

Prosecutors said the operation has racked up millions of dollars in transactions since 2008 in New Mexico, Oklahoma, California and Texas.

The operation, called Tremor Enterprises LLC, started small but worked in plain sight. Over time, the horses and the operation earned a place on some of the most elite stages in the industry. One horse named Mr. Piloto won a $1 million prize at Ruidoso Downs on Labor Day; another named Tempting Dash won the Dash for Cash at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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