Seized horse tied to Zetas is paying off for feds


Houston Chronicle | Guillermo Contreras and Jason Buch | April 12, 2013


Law enforcement personnel take a horse away from the stable at Ruidoso Downs Racetrack on June 12, 2012 after suspects allegedly used drug money to set up and run horse operations in the southwest United States. Photo: Mike Curran, MBO / Ruidoso News

Law enforcement personnel take a horse away from the stable at Ruidoso Downs Racetrack on June 12, 2012 after suspects allegedly used drug money to set up and run horse operations in the southwest United States.
Photo: Mike Curran, MBO / Ruidoso News

As a brother of the feared leader of the Zetas cartel faces a federal trial in Austin next week over allegations of money laundering involving quarter horses, the government is breeding one of his champion studs.

Mr. Piloto, winner of the 2010 All American Futurity in Ruidoso, N.M., now is breeding mares at DLR Ranch near Weatherford in North Texas, according to a report on a website for the American Quarter Horse Association.

The Treasury Department, through its contractors, has allowed the horse to return to breeding at $3,000 each time, according to the report. Cooled semen is available for shipping, the report said.

Sire of many embryos

Mr. Piloto was one of more than 400 horses seized in June 2012 from a ranch in Oklahoma City in connection with the money laundering investigation.

Contacted by the San Antonio Express-News on Friday, a DLR Ranch owner wouldn’t speak about the matter. The department declined comment.

The report also said that, from the 2011 breeding season, Mr. Piloto has 32 foals currently registered with the American Quarter Horse Association. Mr Piloto was the sire of 50 embryos and 16 yearlings that sold in a government-consigned auction in November.

The feds claim Mr. Piloto was one of several quarter horses acquired with drug money by the ruthless leader of the Zetas, Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales, or “Cuarenta” (40), and his brother, another high-ranking member of the Zetas, Omar Treviño Morales, known as “42.”

Name changed

The brothers are charged in the case and are at large.

The horses, investigators allege, were put in the name of the pair’s brother, José Treviño Morales, a nationalized U.S. citizen who held most of the horses at a ranch in Oklahoma. He and four co-defendants go on trial Monday in federal court in Austin.

“What we’ve been told by … members of the organization … is that when a horse started to run well and showed promise, that it would be transferred to José Trevino or one of his businesses’ names so that he could look like that he got this great deal on a horse before it actually, quote, ran but – and then, he’s able to win a lot of money with very little investment is what they wanted it to appear to be,” IRS Criminal Investigations special agent Steve Pennington testified at a court hearing July 3, 2012.

The agent said Mr. Piloto originally was named Maverick Perry and purchased at auction in 2009 for $81,000 byRamiro Villarreal, who was recruited into the organization because of his talent for picking a good bloodline. Villarreal died during the federal probe, records show.

Steve Pennington, an IRS special agent, testified in July that the horse’s ownership was assigned to Tremor Enterprises, a company run by José Treviño, and its name was changed to Mr. Piloto, a reference to the nickname of co-defendant and horse trainer Carlos Miguel Nayen Borbolla.

Rigged race

The horse was entered in the 2010 All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs, N.M. With 22 to 1 odds, Mr. Piloto won the race and a $1 million purse, the richest prize in quarter horse racing.

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AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
  • Judith Keene

    And here are thousands of people in the nation, trying to figure out what to do with all the thousands of “unwanted horses” and put an end to the awful business of horse slaughter, and here is the government creating a lot more horses that will most probably become tomorrows “unwanted horses”!! If this doesnt beat all!! Anything for money, who cares how many of these newly created lives will end up suffering because they couldnt run fast enough or they are too small, too large, too something! Stop breeding and start adopting instead!

    April 14, 2013
    • Debra Gordon

      And paying the AQHA is outrageous! They are FOR horse slaughter, and it should not be. I am so angry. Boycott AQHA, AHA, and any other horse “welfare” organization that supports horse slaughter, until they change their tune. This is sickening.

      April 15, 2013
  • Daryl

    Well I guess it is okay for the government to make money on horses they just took? Must be nice. At least it out of the hands of the other ones. What will they do with it when It can not produce any more?

    April 14, 2013
  • sherriey

    ….and imagine that…Quarter Horses are involved!

    seems to me that a lot of corrupt people are into raising Quarter Horses…you don’t seem to hear about this stuff in a lot of other breeds…(not including TWH’s)….it wasn’t too long ago that another rich QH breeder got busted for illegal shannagins! my oh my!

    April 14, 2013
  • BlessUsAll

    It’s painful to see horses being exploited for their God-given gifts by every greedy hand that touches them. First AQHA breeders and now the federal government.

    On the one hand, the Administration is trying to close down slaughter by defunding horse plant inspections (a good move). On the other, its Treasury Department is now directly responsible for producing more horses in an already overproduced breed, which in effect creates more candidates for slaughter (a bad move if there ever was one).

    How is the venality of the money-laundering cartel any different from the venality of the currency-and-coin-and-colt-producing U.S. Treasury?

    This news makes me want to hug all human beings who see something OTHER THAN cooled semen, racetrack victories, show wins, rodeo prizes, wagering, and slaughter profits when they look into the Soul-filled eyes of an honest, innocent horse.

    No matter who the “players” are — private breeders or public officials — it seems that what we’re really fighting against is the lust for lucre. Our weapon: love. Unsullied, unselfish love.

    not just a mere consequence. In fact, almost

    any piece of pro-slaughter propaganda, misinformation and horse-butchering eulogy published in the past ten years can be traced back to the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), despite the efforts of the Amarillo-based breed registry to conceal their origin by developing a network of think-tanks and phony “non-profit” organizations.

    April 14, 2013
    • BlessUsAll

      Please disregard the words I meant to delete after “Unsullied, unselfish love.” Sorry ‘about that! It was a partial quote from Jerry, BTW. 🙂

      April 14, 2013
  • MorganG

    The gov’t confiscating horses and then breeding them????!!!! I think I just got a monumental headache from banging my head against the wall.

    April 14, 2013
  • Tracey Dunn Williamson

    The American Quarter Horse Association gets horse meat funding re-instated through a crooked back door deal with three corrupt senators, the government supports predatory, inhumane horse slaughter because they are in the pocket of Big Ag, and the feds contribute to over breeding of quarter horses, the number one slaughtered breed with a confiscated horse. Does anyone wonder why we don’t trust our government ?

    April 14, 2013
  • janwindsong

    Wonderful, the ranch is in Oklahoma City,.

    April 14, 2013
  • This sounds just like the Federal Gov’t taking the Mustang Ranch from the owner in Neveda for whatever reason and then running the ranch themself. They make the rules they break the rules. Horses have no say!!!

    April 15, 2013
  • Debbie Tracy

    CORRUPT DISGUSTING behavior from our GOV> oh my god it just keeps getting better unreal…

    This is not the forum but god we NEED TERM LIMITS NOW!!!!

    Boy it is ALL unraveling isn’t it!!!
    If they don’t enact H.R. 1094 the gov is going to have a a lot of back peddleing to do….

    OH MY GOD I AM SO SO ANGRY just pure rage, I belong to Arabian Horse Ass. and just cancelled my affiliation with them knowing they support slaughter too, and I swear I would have two emails a week about this colt and that every week so they are just as bad as AQHA at least they are in that BREEDER mentality of MONEY!!!! Makes me sick!!!! 🙁

    April 15, 2013