Updated on 06/15/2012 2:26PM

Top Quarter Horse owners indicted in connection with Mexican drug cartel


Three horses who qualified last weekend for the $1,041,000 Ed Burke Million Futurity at Los Alamitos on June 24 have been seized by federal officials after their owners were arrested on Tuesday on money laundering charges involving a notorious Mexican drug cartel that used funds to allegedly purchase Quarter Horses in the United States.

Horses belonging to Tremor Enterprises, operated by Jose Trevino Morales and members of his family, and Bonanza Racing Stables, operated by Fernando Solis Garcia, have been ordered seized, according to a 25-page indictment issued by the FBI.
Morales, 45, his wife, Zulema, 38, and Garcia, 29, were among seven of the 14 individuals arrested on Tuesday in California, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, the FBI said.

FBI officials declined comment on Tuesday regarding how many other horses were seized at Los Alamitos, Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico, and at farms in Oklahoma and Texas. Jose Antonio Flores, who trains two of the three affected qualifiers for the Ed Burke Million Futurity – Mr Ease Cartel and Super Long Straw – said the horses were taken out of Los Alamitos on Tuesday.

“It’s really a shame,” Flores said on Wednesday.

The arrests stemmed from a federal grand jury indictment issued in Texas in May and unsealed on Tuesday. The case was first reported online on Tuesday by the New York Times.

Two prominent California-based Quarter Horse trainers – Adan Farias, 32, and Felipe Alejandro Quintero, 28 – were also arrested in Los Angeles on Tuesday and remain in federal custody in connection with the money laundering case, the FBI said.

Quintero trains the Bonanza-owned Streak Hitter, who qualified for the Ed Burke final in Sunday’s time trials. Bonanza Racing is also listed as owner of Super Long Straw, another Burke qualifier. Tremor is listed as owner of Burke qualifier Mr Ease Cartel, who was third in the Kindergarten Futurity at Los Alamitos on May 20.

The arrests and indictments are part of a multi-year investigation by the government into money laundering activities of the Los Zetas drug cartel. The indictment stated that Jose Trevino Morales and his brothers, Los Zetas leaders Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, 38, and Oscar Omar Trevino Morales, 36, used revenue from drug sales to purchase Quarter Horses in the United States since 2008.

Garcia’s Bonanza Racing was reported in the indictment to be a front for the money laundering activities of Los Zetas “used to conceal and disguise the ownership of Quarter Horses.”

The Tremor stable has included such notable runners as Tempting Dash, the winner of the 2009 Dash For Cash and Texas Classic futurities at Lone Star Park; Mr Piloto, the winner of the All American Futurity for trainer Quintero at Ruidoso Downs in 2010; and the filly Separate Fire, the winner of the 2011 Kindergarten and Ed Burke Million futurities at Los Alamitos.

Mr Piloto stood at stud this year at Jose Trevino’s Zule Farm in Lexington, Okla. Tempting Dash stood at a farm in Elgin, Texas.
According to the FBI’s indictment, the Zule farm property has been ordered seized. Separate Fire was reportedly on that farm when it was seized.

The Tremor and Bonanza breeding and racing stables are believed to own approximately 500 Quarter Horses of all ages, according to a person familiar with their operations.

Farias, who has not trained since last fall because of a series of positive tests for a banned muscle builder at Los Alamitos, and Quintero, who had horses in five trials on Sunday, were named in the indictment for their involvement in money laundering practices.

The indictment states that Quintero “advised members and associates of Los Zetas on Quarter Horse purchases, training and racing,” and said that Farias met with Miguel Trevino “and others to discuss the laundering of proceeds via the Quarter Horse industry.”

“This case is a prime example of the ability of Mexican drug cartels to establish footholds in legitimate U.S. industries, and highlights the serious threats that money laundering causes to our financial system,” Richard Weber, chief of IRS criminal investigation, said in a statement released by the FBI.
The Los Zetas cartel is based in the northern city of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, across from Laredo, Texas, and has been heavily involved in a bloody drug war in recent years that has claimed more than 50,000 lives in that country, according to reports.

It was unclear on Wednesday how the seizure of the Tremor and Bonanza horses would affect the Ed Burke Million Futurity. In one scenario, only the seven remaining qualifiers will start. In another situation, the 11th through 13th fastest qualifiers would join the field.

Officials with the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Association, which administers the race, and Los Alamitos officials met on Wednesday. Track officials did not return phone calls seeking comment.

123race More than 1 year ago
Well well.. were is Mr Piloto.. very nice horse.. wondering if he will be at auciton any time soon..
Leah Wilson More than 1 year ago
What about the horses???do they need homes???they are very sensitive animals and need the proper care...
Terrence Lane More than 1 year ago
here here well said
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Let's see - is football a good, clean sport? Nope - we heard about the extra money being paid to players to take out opposing players (in essence, bribes to maim and destroy). And no basketball player has ever been bribed to miss a few shots, right? And there's no steroids in track and field, right? Oh yeah - extensive drug testing in the Olympics. Maybe soccer is good, clean sport - unless you're a fan on the team that loses. Then you might be trampled by other fans. So, what does that leave us with - cricket and croquet? Golf? How many people bet on golf games? I've never been in an OTB where golf is being bet, but maybe it happens. My point - what sport isn't corrupted by betting? It was money laundering, but I don't quite see how the money laundering truly hurts the financial system of the United States as stated in the article. Breeders and owners were paid for horses sold at auction, whether it was laundered money or not. Vendors were still paid for hay and grain and labor at ranches. I abhor the idea of Mexican drug cartels operating in the US, but they did pay their bills. It's all a dirty, rotten shame. And leave the TVG commentators out of it - it's not their job to do investigative reporting. Anybody will half a sense realized a long time ago that horses sold at Heritage Place for exhorbitant amounts of money was goofy......this has been a long time coming. Remember - Royal Quick Dash was sold at auction after a drug raid. The horses manage to survive. And the horses that qualified to the Ed Burke, as long as they tested clean after the race, ran legitimately and earned their spot in the final gate. Horse racing will survive, fortunately or unfortunately.
Rick Hulce More than 1 year ago
Maybe Ramzan Kadyrov will shift from the thoroughbreds (he's bought horses for millions from Team Valor and the Hall's) to quarter-horses to fill the void.
t More than 1 year ago
No No Rick, T-bred Racing is totally on the up and up because white people are involved in the sport and they are self policing it well, This stuff only happens in Quarterhorse racing because most the names in the sport are non-white. Pretty much as simple as that
Charles Decker More than 1 year ago
And the gutless, suck-up punks at TVG won't have a word to say about it.
Terrence Lane More than 1 year ago
herehere well said
Ryan Farnsley More than 1 year ago
What on earth do you expect TVG to say about it. Last time I checked Dave Weaver and Christina Olivares were not Crime reporters.
Paul_Tuon More than 1 year ago
No worries people, in a few days this thing will be forgotten and the $1,041,000 Ed Burke Million Futurity will be a fantastic race to watch and wager. Let the FBI does its thing and as far I'm concern, it doesn't effect QQ or any other type of horse racing one iota, except for this one, we'll loose a few runners as a result of the seizure. So let we all take a deep breath and not overreact and pointing fingers at anyone, particularly at QH racing or any other group of people. Crimes happen in all facets of life and this one is not an isolated indcident. So get your cash ready for June 24 and have fun betting on the $1,041,000 Ed Burke Million Futurity folks. lol!!!
Morris More than 1 year ago
do things like they do in mexico. dont regulate it. deregulate it.& dont police it. let them alone& it kinda becomes "self leveling". sometimes after a big money match race, they dont agree with the results. after the gun fight is over, there is generally a lot less people involved."an ole railbird" said it.
Paul_Tuon More than 1 year ago
Morris, if I understand you correctly, instead of stewards ajudicating the race results, just use gunfighters to settle the 'claim of foul'? Now that sounds like a fun race to watch, with jockeys claiming foul against each other. lol... lol... lol!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You guys are clueless. For whatever reason, you are clueless as to the root of this problem. 70% of the cartels business is from a substance that was made illegal BASED ON A BOLD FACED, RACIST LIE THAT WENT UNCHALLANGED. When you RELEGALIZE that HARMLESS substance, you cripple the cartels, and you turn the Amrican economy around OVERNIGHT.
Jimee63 More than 1 year ago
I've posted here before what a joke quarter horse racing is. Only locals in 4 to 5 states have any interest in the sport. I have watched occasionally a few races on TVG. With the short distances of the races, the race results are easy to be manipulated. With regard to other comments posted below, watch the entries for just a couple of races and see if you can spot any caucasian names.
t More than 1 year ago
Sports are for white people only in Jimee63's world