AUSTIN (KXAN) - Federal prosecutors said they have broken up a major money-laundering operation at an Oklahoma ranch and a New Mexico quarter-horse race track connected to one of Mexico's most powerful drug cartels.
An indictment unsealed Tuesday alleges a key member of a Mexican drug ring laundered money through horse operations in the southwestern United States. Federal agents conducted raids early Tuesday south of Oklahoma City and at the Ruidoso Downs horse track in New Mexico.
According to prosecutors, 48-year-old Eusevio Maldonado Huitron of Austin, Texas was one of the seven men arrested. Seven other suspects have been charged but are not currently in custody.
The indictment said the organization generated millions of dollars and that proceeds were used to buy, train, breed and race American quarter-horses.
KXAN News went by Huitron's house in Southeast Austin and talked to his wife Tuesday evening. She claims that her husband trained horses but she didn't know why he was arrested. Huitron's wife said she hasn't heard from him since officials whisked him away Tuesday morning.
Authorities have a court order to confiscate property in Bastrop County where Huitron trained horses, but trainers at the facility Tuesday said they have not seen any law enforcement. When KXAN News visited the location in Dale, Texas, there were many horses still on the property as well as racing equipment.
Authorities were also working on confiscating numerous quarter horses, one of which was "Tempting Dash."
Huitron trained this particular horse and the horse ended up winning the Dash for Cash at Lone Star Park race track in Grand Prairie, Texas, in October 2009.
"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, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation.
If convicted, the defendants could face up to 20 years in federal prison.
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