U.S. prosecutors said on Tuesday that they had arrested the brother of a suspected Mexican drug cartel boss after busting a major money-laundering operation involving horse-racing ventures.
According to officials, law-enforcement officers arrested Jose Trevino Morales and six others in raids carried out in Oklahama and New Mexico. Morales is the brother of Miguel Angel Trevino, the suspected leader of Mexico's infamous Zetas drug cartel. Trevino is yet to be nabbed despite continued efforts by the Mexican government.
Morales is accused of using champion race horse ranches in New Mexico and Oklahoma to launder millions of dollars in drug money for the Zetas. Officials say he used drug money to buy, train, breed and race American horses.
Morales and 13 others were indicted later on Tuesday for money-laundering charges by U.S. authorities. Following the development, US Embassy in Mexico issued a security alert to all American citizens in that country on Tuesday afternoon as a precautionary measure against possible reprisal attacks by the drug cartel.
The dreaded Zetas drug cartel was formed by former Mexican special forces soldiers. The Zetas initially served as hit-men and armed enforcers for the powerful Gulf cartel. They later split from their employers and extended their activities to include drug trafficking, kidnapping and extortion.
The group has been engaged in fierce turf-wars with the Gulf and Sinaloa cartels for control of the lucrative drug smuggling routes into the U.S. The Mexican government claims that the ongoing inter-cartel turf-wars are responsible for the bulk of drug-related killings in the country.
According to the Mexican government, more than 45,000 people have died in drug-related violence in the country since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against drug gangs after taking office in December 2006.
by RTT Staff Writer
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