June 13, 2012

They're Heeeeeere

Yesterday CenTexTim wrote a post about the Mexican cartel infiltration of American small towns.  It has been an ongoing story, with news popping up every week or so about a drug stash house here, or some other money-laundering scheme there, in some nondescript suburban area.  Not long ago I saw a presentation by local law enforcement that showed the drug carrying routes and the known and suspected cities occupied by cartel members, along those routes.

Yesterday, the news broke that the Zetas have infiltrated the American horse racing circuit.  Jose Trevino, the brother of a high-ranking cartel member has been laundering money for the Zetas by buying, breeding, training and racing horses.
"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 threat money laundering causes to our financial system," said Richard Weber, the chief of the IRS' criminal investigation unit.
The story says that Trevino was unknown to authorities until he began buying expensive race horses in 2009.  At first he pretended not to speak English and avoided the cameras when his horses did well, until November of that year, when his horse won the Texas Classic Futurity and, apparently, that Mexican machismo kicked in and he wanted to bask in the limelight and spoke perfect English on camera and to reporters.

For the next three years, his horses kept winning big, in major upsets, all around the southwest.  Last year Trevino shed his "cover" story of being a construction worker living in a low-income neighborhood outside of Dallas, near Lone Star Park, and moved his family to a sprawling ranch in Lexington, Oklahoma, south of Oklahoma City.  (Small town near major highway, access to large city and airport - cartel SOP).

Obviously the Feds were on to him at this point, and, obviously the Zetas were aware:
The Times also reported the tragic story of Ramiro Villarreal, "an unlikely horseman" from a modest family who became the brothers' prized horse purchaser. But Villarreal eventually turned informant against "El 40," whom he called "Papi," the paper reported. In March 2011, his body was found in a torched car near Nuevo Laredo.
(Are you paying attention, Tim? This investigation began in Laredo and then ballooned across the country, as the Feds started connecting the dots.  I really wish you would move to a different location for work.  Hell, even the Qatar campus would be an improvement).

I am aghast that the theme of the investigation seems to revolve around the money, and sure, that is important.  But, when the Zetas are sweeping the major races on the Quarter Horse circuit, and are naming horses things like "Coronita Cartel" - they aren't exactly keeping things on the down low.  Shouldn't the Feds have noticed something before huge transactions were taking place?  What is it we do with all of that intel, watch lists, facial recognition tech and tracking info?

What really freaks me out is how close to home this hits.  I live in the middle of Texas' horse ranch territory.  I have a neighbor that just retired (and moved away...whew...wonder if any Zetas ever visited his place?) on the success of his race horses.  The level to which the Zetas were openly participating in, and fully accepted by, the equine community is astounding.  Those message boards aren't lighting up with "I always wondered" comments, they are full of shock and disbelief that the wildly successful organization that people bought horses from or sold top notch horses to, was the Mexican Mafia.

One more side note - my knowledge of how law enforcement investigations work is limited, but, here is how the local police found out about the ranch raid:
Lexington Police Chief Deana Standridge told The Purcell Register Lexington Police noticed a large number of vehicles, in addition to Air Evac, parked at the high school around 5 a.m. Tuesday.

Agents in the vehicles told the local officer they were FBI working “on one of the largest operations they’ve had in quite sometime.”

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/06/13/4027839/us-officials-say-zetas-used-the.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/06/13/4027839/us-officials-say-zetas-used-the.html#storylink=cpy

1 comment:

CenTexTim said...

Harper - one of Trevino's racehorses was named Number One Cartel. That's what those in the law enforcement business call "a clue"...

As for the body in the torched car near Nuevo Laredo, that's an everyday occurrence - like muggings in South Dallas.

Thanks for your concern. I wish I could go elsewhere, but you gotta go where the work is. Kinda like Mr. Harper and his trips to El Paso.