05/10/2013 3:31PM

Four convicted of using drug-cartel funds to race Quarter Horses


In a money-laundering case that has rocked Quarter Horse racing circles since last year, a federal jury Thursday convicted four men of using drug-trafficking funds from the Los Zetas cartel in Mexico to “purchase, train, breed and race American Quarter Horses in the United States.” The trial was held in Austin, Texas.

Jose Trevino Morales, the 46-year-old brother of two men considered to be the leaders of Los Zetas, is among the convicted men, who each face up to 20 years in prison. Trainers Fernando Solis Garcia, 30, and Eusevio Maldonado Huitron, 49, also were convicted, as was 52-year-old businessman Francisco Colorado Cessa, according to a release from the offices of U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman.

“By following the money trail, IRS [Criminal Investigation] special agents were able to financially disrupt and dismantle this major drug-trafficking organization,” said Richard Weber, chief of the IRS Criminal Investigation division.

Federal authorities last year seized more than 400 Quarter Horses in the case, with 379 of them sold during a Heritage Place auction in Oklahoma City in November. The horses brought about $9 million, with one, A Dash of Sweet Heat, selling for $1 million. Prior to the auction, about 100 broodmares were sold for $35,000, according to the release. The proceeds from the sales are being held in escrow.

The government still has nine horses in its possession, the most prominent ones being Mr Piloto, the winner of the 2010 All American Futurity; Tempting Dash, the winner of the 2009 Dash for Cash Futurity; Separate Fire; and Dashin Follies.