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Where Horse Racing Meets Drug Trafficking

horses-miguel-trevino-1-061212We already know that it’s time to bring an end to horse racing. It’s just another of those so-called traditions like rodeo that are cruel and deadly to the animals and have no place in a civilized society. But today’s New York Times uncovers a whole other dark side to this so-called sport: its connection to the drug trafficking industry.[readon]

Leading the revelry at the track was [the horse’s owner], José Treviño Morales, 45, a self-described brick mason who had grown up poor in Mexico. … As for the man who made the whole day possible, Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales, he was living on the run, one of the most wanted drug traffickers in the world.

Mr. Treviño, a younger brother of José Treviño, is second in command of Mexico’s Zetas drug trafficking organization, say law enforcement authorities on both sides of the border. Thin with a furrowed brow, he has become the organization’s lead enforcer — infamous for dismembering his victims while they are still alive.

The race was one of many victories for the Treviño brothers, who managed to establish a prominent horse breeding operation, Tremor Enterprises, in the United States that allowed them to launder millions of dollars in drug money, according to current and former federal law enforcement officials.

According to the U.S. Justice Department, the Zetas have been funneling a million dollars a month of drug money (sometimes a million dollars a day) into buying quarter horses in this country.

This extensive article tells the story of the family, the industry and the law enforcement people who eventually nailed them. The story could be straight out of a movie, with all the stock characters, assassinations, double-dealing, high living and informers. But while the main focus of the article is on crime and corruption and murder, the exploitation of the horses is impossible to ignore:

As much as Tremor was a money-laundering operation, the Treviño brothers’ quarter horse venture allowed them to mix business with pleasure. Horses have long been considered a status symbol in Latin America and drug traffickers have been among the region’s most avid collectors.

The drug traffickers’ new horse racing business became a very high-end breeding and training operation:

Tremor’s winning streak allowed him to hire the most respected jockeys, trainers and sales associates in the business. Last year, said people who know him, José Treviño moved his family from a modest suburban house in Mesquite, Tex., where he said he worked in the construction industry, to a large ranch outside Lexington, Okla. … A person familiar with the ranch said that Mr. Treviño had converted a manure-filled cattle barn on the property into a breeding facility, with state-of-the-art labs and special stalls where mares are implanted with embryos.