Feds: Horses used in money laundering sold for $8.8 million

Posted at: 11/05/2012 2:31 PM
By: KOB.com staff

More than 300 quarter horses seized by federal authorities in June as part of an alleged Los Zetas money laundering operation have been sold for approximately $8.8 million.

In a news release, U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Steve McCollough said most of the horses were sold this weekend at Heritage Place Auction Facility in Oklahoma City, OK.

The sales included A Dash of Sweet Heat, which sold for $1 million. Approximately 100 broodmares were sold prior to auction for $35,000.

The federal government still retains possession of approximately 45 quarter horses, including Mr. Piloto, the $1 million All American Futurity winner at Ruidoso Downs on Labor Day, 2010.

Pitman noted that while the individual defendants in this case will face criminal trial in the spring, the proceeds from the sale of these quarter horses will be held in escrow pending a forfeiture action.

Court documents allege that the horses were bought by and for members of the Los Zetas drug cartel with proceeds from narcotics trafficking.

“Like all criminal organizations, the Zetas are motivated by money. Identifying and taking their assets is an important way to lay an axe to the root of the tree. If successful, the forfeiture of these assets will represent a major step in our efforts to interrupt the cartel’s activity within in the United States,” said Pitman.

“This investigation has helped to disrupt this alleged international drug cartel’s U.S.-based money laundering operations and demonstrates the lengths that US law enforcement will go to deprive criminal organizations."