SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- The brother of
two kingpins of Mexico's infamous
Zetas drug cartel was sentenced on
Thursday to 20 years in U.S. federal
prison for his role in laundering money
for the gang through the buying,
training and racing of American
Jose Trevino Morales, 42, his wife and
two middlemen convicted with him in
May handled millions of dollars in drug
proceeds for the Zetas, laundering cash
through a network of straw buyers in
Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and
California, authorities said.
FBI agent Armando Fernandez said
Trevino sought to avoid financial
reporting requirements by making sure
that no more than $10,000 in cash
was ever deposited in a single bank at
The money was ultimately invested in
the American quarter horse industry,
and some of the horses turned out to
be big winners on the racing circuit.
One horse, Mr. Piloto, won a $1
million purse in the 2010 All American
Futurity at Ruidoso Downs in New
The quarter-horse investments marked
some of the more novel money
laundering efforts tied to the Zetas, an
organization blamed for many of the
bloodiest atrocities carried out by
Mexican drug gangs.
"This prosecution and the sentences
imposed today should send a clear
message to those who would attempt
to import their brand of corruption
and violence into the United States,"
U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman said after
the sentencing. "We will find you, we
will prosecute you and we will seek the
most severe consequences that the law
The two middlemen, Francisco
Colorado Cessa, 52, and Fernando
Solis Garcia, 30, were also sentenced
on Thursday after being convicted of
money laundering in May. Colorado
received 20 years in prison and Solis
was sentenced to 13 years.
Several other lower-level participants
in the operation, including Trevino's
wife, Zulema, were scheduled to be
sentenced on Friday.
In July, Mexican authorities arrested his
younger brother, the reputed leader of
the Zetas cartel, Miguel Angel Trevino
Morales, who was wanted for murder,
torture, money laundering and
ordering the kidnapping and execution
of 265 migrants.
Another younger brother, top Zetas
lieutenant Alejandro Trevino Morales,
also known as Oscar Omar Trevino
Morales, is still at large and is believed
to be in Mexico.