As a brother of the feared leader of the Zetas cartel faces a federal trial in Austin next week over allegations of money laundering involving quarter horses, the government is breeding one of his champion studs.
Mr. Piloto, winner of the 2010 All American Futurity in Ruidoso, N.M., now is breeding mares at DLR Ranch near Weatherford, according to a report on a website for the American Quarter Horse Association.
The Treasury Department, through its contractors, has allowed the horse to return to breeding at $3,000 each time, according to the report. Cooled semen is available for shipping, the report said.
Mr. Piloto was one of more than 400 horses seized in June 2012 from a ranch in Oklahoma City in connection with the money laundering investigation.
Contacted by the San Antonio Express-News on Friday, a DLR Ranch owner wouldn’t speak about the matter. The department declined comment.
The feds claim Mr. Piloto was one of several quarter horses acquired with drug money by the ruthless leader of the Zetas, Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales, or “Cuarenta” (40), and his brother, another high-ranking member of the Zetas, Omar Treviño Morales, known as “42.”
The brothers are charged in the case and are at large.
The horses, investigators allege, were put in the name of the pair’s brother, José Treviño Morales, a nationalized U.S. citizen who held most of the horses at a ranch in Oklahoma. He and four co-defendants go on trial Monday in federal court in Austin.
The agent said Mr. Piloto originally was named Maverick Perry and purchased at auction in 2009 for $81,000 by Ramiro Villarreal, who was recruited into the organization because of his talent for picking a good bloodline. Villarreal died during the federal probe, records show.
Steve Pennington, an IRS special agent, testified in July that the horse’s ownership was assigned to Tremor Enterprises, a company run by José Treviño, and its name was changed to Mr. Piloto, a reference to the nickname of co-defendant and horse trainer Carlos Miguel Nayen Borbolla.
The horse was entered in the 2010 All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs, N.M. With 22 to 1 odds, Mr. Piloto won the race and a $1 million purse, the richest prize in quarter horse racing.
But Pennington testified that Nayen used $110,000 in drug money to bribe race gatekeepers to rig the contest. Nayen is not going to trial. He has pleaded guilty to an unspecified charge. His plea deals and that of several other co-defendants are sealed.
Ruidoso Downs officials deny the race was rigged.
Mr. Piloto, a champion colt named Tempting Dash, and three other valuable horses remain in the custody of the feds. They likely will be forfeited to the government should José Treviño and his co-defendants be convicted, federal prosecutors have said.
Most of the other seized horses already were sold at auction at the Heritage Place Fall Mixed Sale in Oklahoma City last November for more than $8 million, including filly A Dash of Sweet Heat that was bought back for $1 million by Julianna Hawn Holt, a co-owner of the San Antonio Spurs.
Holt previously had sold that horse for $650,000, the Express-News previously reported.