Horses are dying at Oklahoma ranch linked to Mexican drug cartel

Judge agrees to let federal government sell the almost 400 horses at a ranch in southern Oklahoma.
by Nolan Clay Published: August 6, 2012

The grand jury alleged two Los Zetas leaders sent drug money to their older brother, Jose Trevino, to finance the racehorse operation.

The judge ordered the IRS to “place the net proceeds of the sales into an interest-bearing account pending the outcome of this case.”

The defendants could ask an appeals court to block the judge's order. The judge made his order effective in 20 days to let the defendants have time to appeal “if they so choose.”

The money in the account will be forfeited to the government if there are convictions in the case. The money would be released to the defendants if they are acquitted.

The judge agreed with prosecutors that yearlings specifically need to be sold so they can be trained.

“Some of these horses are rapidly approaching the age at which they must begin their training if they are to realize their full value as racing horses,” the judge wrote. “If these horses cannot be sold in the coming months, the record suggests they will drop precipitously in value.

“Further, because the length of a horse's racing career is obviously limited, the value of the race-ready horses declines with each passing race.”

Prosecutors told the judge that Jose Trevino had at first agreed to the sale but then changed his mind. The judge wrote “nether Trevino's ‘sentimental attachment' to the horses, nor his purported concern about theoretical civil liability,” was sufficient to outweigh the substantial justifications for sale of the horses.

Prosecutors told the judge Monday that four fouls at the Lexington ranch died from a pneumonia outbreak and 35 other foals had been isolated from the herd due to illness. They also told the judge Monday that one mare had died and another mare had to be euthanized.

Saving money

Four more fouls and another mare died Wednesday and early Thursday morning at the ranch, according to court records. Prosecutors reported a veterinarian concluded the heat in Oklahoma “was likely the main reason for the deaths.”

The judge also agreed to the horse sale to save the government money. Federal authorities took direct control of 49 of the most valuable horses in June, removing 11 from the ranch in Lexington to keep them from being moved to Mexico, court records show. The cost to the government to board those 49 horses already exceeds $500,000.

NewsOK.com has disabled the comments for this article.
by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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