The New York Times published an in depth article today linking quarter horse racing to one of the most sought after drug traffickers in the world.
The details of how Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales and brother José Treviño Morales have insinuated themselves into quarter horse racing makes for disturbing reading.
Writing about José Treviño Morales’s victory in the All American Futurity (the equivalent of the Kentucky Derby of quarter horse racing) with a horse called Mr. Piloto, Ginger Thompson reports:
The race was one of many victories for the Treviño brothers, who managed to establish a prominent horse breeding operation in the United States, Tremor Enterprises, that allowed them to launder millions of dollars in drug money, according to current and former federal law enforcement officials. The operation amounted to a foothold in the United States for one of Mexico’s most dangerous criminal networks, the officials said.
Using Miguel Ángel Treviño’s cash, José Treviño’s legal residency and Mr. Villarreal’s eye for a good horse, Tremor bought a sprawling ranch in Oklahoma and an estimated 300 stallions and mares. The Treviño brothers might have kept their operation quiet, given the criminal connection, but their passion for horses and winning apparently proved too tempting. In the short span of three years, Tremor won three of the industry’s biggest races, with prizes totaling some $2.5 million.
Mr. Villareal’s association with the Treviño brothers did not turn out well. The article later reveals:
Mr. Villarreal’s story had come to a fatal, fiery end. Not long after the 2010 victory at Ruidoso, he was detained by the Drug Enforcement Administration and reluctantly agreed to work as an informant. Five months later, his charred remains were found in a burnt-out car on the highway outside Nuevo Laredo.
A particular unsettling revelation in the New York Times report is that the major league drug trafficking Treviño’s “worked with breeders, trainers and brokers considered pillars of the business.”
Horse racing is a close knit industry, so whether or not the true owner of the racehorses were registered, people within the game knew who they were dealing with.
“Everyone knows who José Treviño is,” one trainer said. “But all they cared about was whether his checks would clear.”
One of the quarter horses in an estimated $3 Million Quarter Horse purchase by José Treviño was named Number One Cartel.