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Five alleged cartel associates licensed by Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission

Racetrack officials say horse owners are subjected to “vigorous” background checks before being issued a license. It appears Jose Trevino Morales, whose brother is head of the infamous Los Zetas cartel in Mexico, slipped through the cracks. He wasn't the only one, either.
by Andrew Knittle Modified: June 13, 2012 at 9:43 pm •  Published: June 13, 2012

The couple's Lexington ranch was raided Tuesday. Agents raided a racetrack in New Mexico on the same day and made five additional arrests in Austin, Texas; Los Angeles; and Ruidoso, N.M.

Jose Trevino's brothers, including Miguel Trevino and Oscar Omar Trevino Morales, were not arrested and are believed to be in Mexico. Oscar Trevino is described as a cartel leader, as well.

Sources near the Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino said the cartel's link to Jose Trevino's horse racing operation was an open secret.

Stable workers, who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity, said Jose Trevino's stables were called the “Zetas' stables,” and that they had seen Mexican citizens show up in New Mexico with duffel bags full of cash to buy horses.

In plain sight

The Trevino family has been living for years in the U.S., essentially hiding in plain sight. The family lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area before buying the farm in Lexington.

The Trevinos' daughter, Alexandra, was married recently at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas. A hotel employee said the facility is among the swankiest in the city.

“I don't know how much a wedding costs, but it's not cheap,” the employee said.

The Trevino family forged relationships with industry professionals, including one of the most successful trainers in the business, Paul Jones.

Nancy Yearsley, president of a Kentucky-based company that insures race horses, attended Alexandra Trevino's wedding, according to her company's Facebook page.

“Nancy Yearsley was one of the guests at Alexandra and Luis Garcia's wedding which was held at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas last Saturday,” a June 5 post read. “Alexandra is the daughter of Jose and Zulema Trevino, owners of Zule Farms in Lexington, Oklahoma.”

Media reports also suggest the wedding was covered by Track Magazine, which follows the horse racing industry.

Paul Jones, who is a highly successful quarter horse trainer, often worked for Jose Trevino. The two are featured in photographs together on racing websites, usually with large trophies in hand.

Neighbors' suspicions

Neighbors in Lexington described Jose Trevino and his ranch employees as good people, but many were suspicious because of the size of the ranch and the scope of its operations.

Authorities said the upkeep, just for the 425 horses, would be roughly $200,000 per month.

Clifford Massengale, a neighbor and retired military officer, said he noticed the extravagance.

“It would take a multimillionaire just to support an operation like that,” Massengale said. “The first thing I noticed was they were too obvious in their attempt to let people know they were in the horse business, but they were the best neighbors we've ever had on that property.”

Neighbors also said the 160-acre ranch was always manicured and often lit up at night with flood lights.


Staff Writer Nolan Clay and The Associated Press

by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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