US authorities have accused 14 members of the Mexican Zetas drug cartel of hiding millions of dollars of drug proceeds in a horse racing and breeding operation in the United States.
Seven members of the hyper-violent cartel were arrested Tuesday during raids on stables in New Mexico and a horse ranch in Oklahoma, and charged with one count each of money laundering, the Associated Press reported.
Another seven members, including Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, who is a senior figure in the Zetas drug operation in Mexico, were named in an indictment but haven’t been arrested.
"This case is a prime example of the ability of Mexican drug cartels to establish footholds in legitimate US industries and highlights the serious threat money laundering causes to our financial system," Richard Weber, chief of IRS Criminal Investigation, said in a statement cited by Agence France-Presse.
"This attack on one of the Zetas' most profitable money laundering schemes is an essential front in the war on drugs and will financially disrupt and help dismantle this violent international criminal organization."
The New York Times published an extensive story about the raids and the sophisticated money laundering operation on Tuesday.
According to CNN, Miguel Angel Trevino Morales and his brother Oscar Omar Trevino Morales funneled drug money to another brother, Jose Trevino Morales, and his wife in the United States to buy, train, breed and race quarter horses.
Some of the horses had names referring to drug gangs, such as Corona Coronita Cartel and Number One Cartel, and a number of them won key races in the United States, the BBC said.
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