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Texas money-laundering trial begins

AUSTIN, Texas -- A multimillion-dollar horse racing and breeding operation run from an Oklahoma ranch was a front for a notorious Mexican cartel to launder millions of dollars in drug money, prosecutors alleged yesterday.

Jose Treviño Morales, the younger brother of the suspected leader of the Zetas drug cartel, is charged with money laundering conspiracy along with four co-defendants in the trial that began Tuesday.

Prosecutor Douglas Gardner told jurors Treviño had been put in charge of the scheme by his brothers, who are alleged to be at the top of one of the biggest, most versatile and violent criminal organizations in the world. The scheme went through $16 million in horse-related expenses in 30 months, Gardner said.

"The Zetas make money by drugs, extortion, bribery and send the money to the U.S. to buy racehorses," he said.

Gardner alleged Treviño, 46, ran the operation for his brothers, Miguel Angel Treviño Morales and Oscar Omar Treviño Morales. He alleged a Mexican businessman, Francisco Antonio Colorado Cessa, bought horses for the Zetas through his oil services company.

Authorities say it was also a front for the drug cartel.

-- AP

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