AUSTIN (AP) — Jurors in the trial of five men charged with using a horse racing and breeding operation to launder drug money for a Mexican cartel will return to court on Wednesday to hear closing arguments.
A federal judge in Austin gave jurors a three day break after both sides rested in the case linked to an Oklahoma ranch horse racing operation that allegedly fronted the Zetas cartel. All five men are charged with money laundering conspiracy.
Lawyers for Jose Trevino Morales, Francisco Antonio Colorado Cessa and Fernando Solis Garcia declined to call any witnesses.
Among those in custody is Jose Trevino Morales, the younger brother of reputed top Zetas founders and leaders Miguel Angel and Oscar Omar Trevino Morales.
Also on trial are horse trainer Eusevio Maldonado Huitron and his older brother Jesus Maldonado Huitron, who's in the construction business. Witnesses for the brothers testified Thursday about their limited education but said both were hard workers.
A total of 15 people have been charged in what federal prosecutors said was a money-laundering operation centered at the Oklahoma horse ranch that quietly spent millions in drug profits on racehorses for Mexican cartel. Eight of the suspects have been arrested; the rest remain at large.
Prosecutor Douglas Gardner told jurors at the start of the trial that the scheme went through $16 million in horse-related expenses in 30 months.
Gardner painted a picture of a conspiracy in which horse owners, trainers and others crafted bank deposits to hide the true source of the operation's funding. He said they created companies that bought horses with the cartel's money and even fixed the outcome of horse races.
Trevino Morales' attorney David Finn said prosecutors have tried to "tar and feather" his client because of his brothers' alleged illegal actions.
Prosecutors said that Eusevio Maldonado, the trainer for the horses, was also involved in racing violations, like doping the horses, ignoring track rules, bribing track officials, putting the horses under his daughter's name when he had been suspended and even shocking a horse with electricity to make it run faster.
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