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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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