Several hundred US agents raided Oklahoma and New Mexico stables this week and arrested seven members of Mexico’s Zetas cartel for laundering drug money through the horse tracks.
The indictment alleges the horse racing and breeding operation raised in excess of $20 million. A total of 14 defendants were charged with conspiracy to use horse racing and breeding to launder the cartel’s drug money, claimed authorities.
US officials say this case shows how Mexican gangs are able to infiltrate legitimate US businesses. The company that allegedly acted as a front for the operation bred and raced winning horses at important US meetings.
US Attorney Robert Pitman, stated, “The allegations in this indictment, if proven, would document yet another example of the corrupting influence of Mexican drug cartels within the United States, facilitated by the enormous profits generated by the illicit drug trade.”
The five key suspects remain at large and are expected to have fled across the border to Mexico. If convicted in the US, the suspects face up to 20 years in a federal prison. The US has offered $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Miguel Ángel, second in command of the cartel.