Indicted cartel members to face Texas judge

Los Zetas had wide-ranging interests in local horse racing


SAN ANTONIO – Seven people arrested in connection with a federal investigation of how one of Mexico's most powerful drug cartels laundered money through quarter horse operations in New Mexico and Oklahoma will eventually face a judge in Texas.

U.S. Attorney's office spokesman Daryl Fields said Wednesday that all of those arrested will make their initial appearances before judges in the districts where they were apprehended.

When they will arrive in Austin is uncertain, but they will all eventually stand before a magistrate judge there.

Eusevio Maldonado Huitron, among those arrested Tuesday on a money laundering charge, is the case's closest San Antonio-area connection.

Authorities are trying to seize the 48-year-old's ranch about 25 miles southwest of Austin. He was scheduled to appear in court Friday.

This all comes as federal authorities indicted 15 members of the Los Zetas drug cartel, based out of Mexico.

Included among them is one of the group's leaders, Miguel Trevino, also known as 'L40.'

The 25-page indictment alleges that Trevino funneled drug money to his younger brother, Jose Trevino, in order to purchase, train, breed, and race quarter horses at different tracks around the US.

Several horses have raced at Retama Park in San Antonio, according to the U.S. Attorney's office. The horses have been very successful, garnering millions in winnings over the years at tracks around the country, all the while sporting nicknames like Coronita Cartel, Morning Cartel, and Number One Cartel.

Experts said laundering money is a major part of the cartel's operations, finding businesses that utilize large amounts of cash in daily transactions.

Fred Burton of Strafor, a global intelligence firm, said horse racing is a perfect industry to do just that.

The opportunity to make money is also there, making the option of funding horse racing operations through fake companies very attractive.

The U.S. State Department issued a statement on Tuesday, warning U.S. citizens in Mexico of an increased threat of Los Zetas cartel members targeting Americans in retaliation for yesterday's arrests.