Most of the quarter horses linked by the federal government to a violent Mexican drug cartel will be sold in November in Oklahoma City.
A federal grand jury May 30 alleged that two leaders of the powerful Los Zetas drug cartel in Mexico sent millions of dollars in drug funds to their older brother in the United States to purchase, breed, train and race quarter horses.
FBI agents in June arrested the older brother, Jose Trevino Morales, 45, and his wife, Zulema Trevino, at their horse ranch in Lexington. They are awaiting trial, along with seven others accused of involvement in the $20 million money-laundering conspiracy.
Prosecutors on Friday told the trial judge that 379 horses linked to the conspiracy will be sold at auction Nov. 1-3 at Heritage Place in southwest Oklahoma City. The Internal Revenue Service is handling the preparations to auction the horses.
The horses to be sold include many with colorful names such as Coronita Cartel, One Diamond, Merry For Money and Break Out The Bullet.
Prosecutors told the judge the Internal Revenue Service already has sold 99 broodmares because the Lexington ranch was overcrowded.
The IRS received about $32,175 in gross proceeds from the sale of the broodmares Sept. 11, prosecutors reported.
Prosecutors also reported 20 horses, mostly foals, died of natural causes between June 29 and Sept. 10.
U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks ordered the IRS to “maintain the net proceeds of the sales until the conclusion of the ... criminal case.”
The money in the account will be released to the government if there are convictions in the case. The money could be released to the defendants if they are acquitted. The trial is set to begin in March in Austin, Texas.
Some of the defendants, including the two alleged cartel leaders, have not been arrested.
In many criminal cases, the government is not allowed to sell property until after a defendant is convicted at trial.
The judge agreed to the sales before trial because of health concerns and so that yearlings can be sold and trained to race while their values are still high.
Not being sold before trial, though, are five of the more valuable horses — Tempting Dash, Mr. Piloto, Separate Fire, Dashin Follies and a colt identified only as Y516. Prosecutors agreed to hold those horses out of the November auction after Jose Trevino agreed not to try to block the sale of the other horses.