The courtroom filled early and soon faced a blur of facts, initials, figures, names of horses, stables, races, LLCs, informants, and so much previously presented testimony all heads were spinning and emotions frazzled. Standing room was not allowed, so there was a jockeying for the limited seats, and even for press, who had to follow the strictly enforced rule of no electronics in the courtroom.
|U.S Attorney Team
Reporters were apprehensive with the thought of leaving the courtroom to update editors for fear of not getting back into the courtroom. Havana would be silent for long stretches then a flurry of texts or emails from outside the courtroom.
For over a year and a half,
Judge Sam Sparks remarked; he’d worked the case lugging around more paper than he could carry and by the look of his courtroom podium no one doubted it.
Sentence recommendations precede the sentencing hearings, filed both by defense and prosecution teams, however, sentencing hearings are mini trials in themselves, with evidence, and testimony presented. Eleven convicted defendants and over forty attorneys were a part of the long process.
There was much talk about the dollar amount funneled through the quarter horse operation as being a very conservative estimate. The US attributed it to the sophistication of the Zetas money laundering scheme. If factors didn’t add up 100% proof, that evidence was not included. Judge Sparks commented that even if the dollar figure might have been relatively conservative, there was overwhelming resounding amount of evidence to convict the participants.
At one point Sparks marveled, “one of the remarkable things about this case is that not one of the defendants had a criminal history and they participated in it for greed, fear or intimidation.”
Ramon Segura was the first witness whose contribution testimony was supposed to help lighten Francisco Colorado Cessa’s lengthy sentence.
Before the court Ramon Segura Flores stated he was a founding member of ADT Petrolservicios in 2001, so obviously, Francisco Cessa Colorado’s business partner. While working for ADT from 2002-2007, Segura’s job was procuring RFPs, fulfilling contracts and tracking income. He purchased machinery and said all of Pemex money was deposited directly into the ” Bancomer #989835 account.” “I handled all acquisitions and knew about all the funds to cover them”
When asked about Pemex’s corruption, he said “that is something I cannot comment on, I just do my job…..I was aware of their reorganization because of corruption within PeMex and aware of money awarded to fulfill my contracts.” Segura discounted a referred to 6 millionloan from Efrain Torres aka Z14
as something very traceable that more or less couldn’t have happened under his watchful eye. And the 50 million given to Colorado Cessa, he was not aware of either.
Ramon Segura said he speaks daily with Colorado Cessa and has not been involved in fraudulent activities for the company. When asked by the prosecution if he participated if he participated in criminal activities for Colorado Cessa, he replied no but was reminded by Assistant US Attorney, Michelle Fernald that he was under oath. He acknowledged that and was adamant when repeating “no”.
There was much discounting of testimony by the defense throughout the trial and also continuing on the first day of sentencing by the defense on the familiar subject of information provided from confidential informants to the government. One of Colorado Cessa’s lawyers (Sanchez Ross) asked the witness for the prosecution, Scott Lawson, about El Pitufo’s credibility, an infamous informant, having testified in numerous cases (over 80 cases) and is living boarded by the Office of Attorney General with a $5,000 a month salary. El Pitufo was initially going to be used by the American government in this case but was not used.
Case FBI Investigator Scott Lawson and Steve Pennington, criminal investigator for the IRS each took the stand, one after the other for the government. Scott Lawson went over previous testimony in the case reminding us that testimony showed that two businessmen had been killed by the Zetas for cooperation in this case.
It was sobering to learn Victor Lopez; an integral part of the case had been killed by the Zetas for cooperating with authorities.
Victor Lopez picked up some of the slack after Carlos Nayen returned to Mexico. Lopez set up LLCs with Fernando Solis Garcia, was deeply involved in money structuring as well as linked directly to cash smuggling over the border for payments to Southwest Stallion in Elgin Texas.
Additionally, there was previous testimony, a massive paper trail, and photos of his flying from Laredo to Oklahoma for a money drop and returning to Laredo in the same day. Lawson testified Treviño told the Zetas that Lopez attracted attention. Lopez was detained in March 2012 and provided information to the Government.
Lawson told the court Victor Lopez was later killed.
On Friday morning a breaking news event quickly overshadowed the sentencing hearings, when it was revealed that Seugra and Francisco Colorado Cessa Jr. were arrested in a charge of attempting to bribe
the judge in Francisco seniors case, for 1.2 Million dollars.
That made Thursday’s little back and forth between a U.S. Attorney and Segura, during his testimony, more relevant. He, under oath, declared he had never participated in illegal activities with Colorado Cessa.
Hours later Segura and Colorado’s son were arrested in the bribery case.
On Friday at the Colorado/Segura bribery preliminary hearing, Judge Austin told the defendants as he was referring to the charges on the affidavit that they had the right to an attorney; Ramon Segura replied offhandedly, “I don’t understand US Law.”
Then he added he was trying to retain Colorado Cessa’s attorney, Mike DeGeurin, as was Francisco Colorado Jr. It was suggested they might want to alert the Mexican Consulate of their crime as was typically done in similar instances or they could have their lawyer attend to it. They both said they would leave that to their attorney.
In commenting on the bribery case, U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman said; “The latest allegation, if proven, demonstrates that individuals associated with the most violent drug cartel believe that they can corrupt what we hold as the bedrock of American justice -the United States Courts,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman said in a statement.
“We are one step ahead of them and if they continue to try to function as they do in Mexico, we will find them, we will stop them, and we will do whatever it takes to ensure that they are punished to the full extent of the law.”
Judge Sam Sparks, worked the case lugging around more paper than he could carry, for over a year and a half, remarked; “one of the remarkable things about this case is that not one of the defendants had a criminal history and they participated in it for greed, fear or intimidation.”
Adan Farias represented by Daniel Wannamaker Sentenced to 3 years’probation 3600 dollar fine.
Farias, of Norco California, a bedroom community of ranches and horse stables in southern California, is a top notch horse trainer, his company LA Horses was a success, far from the aspirations he once held of becoming an FBI agent. Some around Los Alamitos Race Track say his success in the last 2 ½ years of his career, at the minimum, were the result of running his horses doped on zilpaterol.
As with many of the peripheral characters of the Zetas saga, there is as much to make an argument for Farias being a sympathetic character, as there is to frame him as a scoundrel.
For starters the doping, secondly 11 dead horses in 2 ½ years, racing horses in his care.
Yet his supporters point to his actions before the Zetas, a professional, driven, hardworking, a family man, willing to give of himself in charitable causes, creating a youth program.
In 2011, a 17 year old boy named Emanuel connected with the ‘Make A Wish Foundation’ saying his dream was to meet his idols, Paul Jones and the other Adan Farias. Farias spent a day with Emanuel. This was a year before his ‘idol’ had his license revoked for doping.
Farias was contacted by Carlos Nayen, who eventually contracted Farias to train 10 Zetas horses in the United States. Nayen asked Farias to travel to Mexico to meet someone Nayen referred to as “The Boss”.
Nayen was deep in the Zetas U.S. operations, drugs, weapons, money laundering and every aspect of the Zetas quarter horse operation. Nayen’s boss Miguel Treviño, wanted the best trainers for his horses, and Farias was a star in the field of quarter horse training.
On a June day in 2010, he travelled from SoCal to San Antonio where he was picked up by Nayen’s people and driven to the border. He hadn’t a clue who the people were who were taking him, where he was going, or who this“boss” was, a man that Nayen once referred to as”40”. He did later report that he felt an uncomfortable feeling, a leeriness from the time he was picked up in San Antonio…..continues on next page
Nayen’s men took him across the border into Mexico. He was blindfolded at times when near the destination. They finally arrived and Farias was presented to 40. He only heard “40” reference once, but it meant nothing to him, like the majority of Southern Californians, Farias didn’t know anything about Zetas. Therefore, when the man introduced himself as Miguel Treviño his mind drew a blank. He shook his hand thinking- am I supposed to know who the fuck this guy is?
He saw AK47s and guns he was unfamiliar with, and asked about them. 40 being the cordial host, showed him the guns and gave him a little education about the weapon. Then it was all about horses….later, time for goodbyes, back with the blindfold, over the border, on the plane, and home.
Upon arriving back home in California, Farias immediately fell asleep. He told the jury It was the next day that he sat at the computer to figure out who Treviño was, he googled Zeta 40….and discovered the man he met in Mexico called “40”, was a superior leader of one of the world’s most powerful organized criminal organizations, Los Zetas..
Three years after first meeting Treviño, Farias faces an uncertain future. Banned from the sport for a series of doping violations, pleading guilty, he was forced into bankruptcy, Farias, 34, was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Austin, Texas. He received the recommended sentence of probation in return for testifying for the government.
Addressing the court Farias apologized and was thankful and said nothing like that would happen again.
His wife came up and also said that she would keep him on the straight and narrow during his probation period. She told the judge they had had many talks and he is very sorry
“Chevo” Huitron: Represented by Richard Esper, sentenced: 97 months and 3 years supervised release with no forfeiture of property.
Eustebio Huitron, the brother of “Jesse” Huitron, the only defendant in the case found not guilty,“was facing a potential 121-151 months in jail. Many case watchers expected that Chevo would receive a light sentence, as his role appeared to be relatively small and hard evidence equally light. Any role Chevo played in the conspiracy was limited to the span of time he trained horses for the Zetas operation.
In addressing the seemingly large sentence request, U.S. Attorney Douglas Gardner acknowledged Chevo’s role was small but “he knew where their money came from and received over a half a million dollars. He was one of the people they utilized…And he had met with “Z40″ directly.” Gardner asked the judge for 97 months, and the request was granted.
Huitron’s attorney Richard D.Esper said, “Crime is a tragedy but not all tragedy is a crime. The crime here is that he is standing in court incarcerated.” Esper wanted the court to know Eusebio Huitron’s role was really so minimal. He is a simple man with a sixth grade education from Mexico which Chevo himself honestly once admitted that he scarcely attended.
Esper went on to say that Chevo didn’t control anyone or play a leadership role. The attorney mentioned even though Chevo wishes to serve his sentence in the Bastrop jail nearest his family, Esper would prefer him to be incarcerated in Dallas Federal Prison which is a jail with a medical facility because Chevo has health issues. He asked for 41 months for Chevo Huitron saying when he has completed his commitments, he will be deported back to Mexico since he isn’t a citizen.
When Chevo faced the Judge Sam Sparks, he asked “…to be forgiven that I became involved with these people….” He blamed it as part of life training horses. “You work 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, for whoever gives you the work…. I am before you and ask forgiveness. My family is back there and I want them to know I love them and for them to forgive me.”
Sam Sparks replied, “Forgiveness is a matter between you and the Lord.”
Sparks gave him 97 months and 3 years supervised release with no forfeiture of property
Felipe Alejandro Quintero represented by Gerardo Montalvo-Sentenced to 3 years’ probation and 3600 dollar fine
Horse Trainer Felipe Alejandro Quintero stood before the judge and apologized to him, and to his family for embarrassing them. “It affected them so much,” he said while sobbing, “I just wanted to say it would never happen again.” His wife came up beside him and spoke for him to the judge and said that Quintero wouldn’t do anything like that ever again and he has definitely repented. Quintero told the judge they are working to rebuild their life. He said that he was working as a cashier at a restaurant. And that he and his wife had also started a cake baking business at his.
Carlos Miguel Nayen Barbolla pleaded guilty under seal
Everyone was escorted out of the courtroom. US Attorney, Mr. Gardner objected to the sealing, “It is the right of the people to understand the justice system.” A motion was filed Thursday to get it unsealed” In two weeks it should be unsealed and we will return to court to finally know Nayen’s fate and hopefully understand some of the mystery surrounding him.
Nayen worked directly
for Efrain Teodoro Torres aka “Z14” until Teodoro was killed at a horse race, at which time Nayen began working for Miguel Treviño.
Nayen who is referred to as“Piloto” in the indictment, was an integral character in the Zetas operations in the U.S., his responsibilities entailed weapons and ammunition into Mexico for the Zetas, and drug profits into the U.S. using various methods of transfer, but primarily using the favored method of organized crime, bulk cash transfers/smuggling to move illicit proceeds across U.S. Borders.
Congress criminalized the act of smuggling large amounts of cash as part of the PATRIOT Act.
U.S. law requires a notification to the IRS of any transfer greater than 10k USD using the FinCEN form. Another way to try to circumvent the 10k requirements is the structured deposits spoken about in length during trial testimony.
Bulk transfers are large illicit transfers into the U.S. via vehicle, watercraft, truck, postal service, aircraft or covertly in shipping containers.
Nayen was in a lead position in the Zetas operation in the U.S. taking orders directly from “40”
Zulema Treviño represented by Clinton Broden sentenced to 3 years’probation
Looking contrite in somber black, standing beside her attorney the wife of Jose Treviño faced Judge Sparks. Zulema was charged in the indictment for“conspiracy to launder” and subsequently pled guilty rather than go to trial.
Judge Sparks said he felt Zulema was doing as her husband instructed.
Prosecutor Douglas Gardner told the court “the government received information that they had (members of the Trevino family) been applying pressure on Zulema and Alejandra, and blaming the lengthy sentence Jose faced on their cooperation. This is just another case of the leaders showing a sense of entitlement.”
The government made it clear that that Alexandra and Zulema absolutely refused to provide information for this case.
He believed Zulema was acting at her husband’s demand. “Mrs. Trevino cut a deal only to protect her family.” With the removal of ill-gotten gains, forfeiture of property, living in a modest ranch house within the bounds of probation, she has been working at a cafeteria for the single school district and a Subway at night having to provide for her family.”
She declined the offer to speak in court. Her lawyer said she was nervous and Judge Sam Sparks said he’d never known a sole that wasn’t nervous standing in an American Federal court and asked to speak.
Zulema received three years’probation but doesn’t have to pay the $3,600 fine due to having forfeited all assets. The judge said that at two years with a written request to him, he probably would release her if she has had exemplary behavior.
Alexandra Garcia Treviño represented by Frank Ivy sentenced to two years’ probation
Alexandra, the daughter of Jose Treviño, was charged in the indictment with “failure to report”, and was facing up to 27 months in prison. Evidence had proven that the young newlywed had only been involved with the operation for a few months before the bust.
Judge Sam Sparks said age was a big factor most likely causing some of her bad decisions.
Prosecutor Douglas Gardner stressed that Alexandra Treviño most assuredly has a mind of her own as exhibited in an early meeting with her and her parents in that she immediately realized the severity of their offenses and she readily took steps to remove herself from her family environment and is now living near the Marine base at Camp Pendleton, in Oceanside, California, 35 miles north of San Diego.
Alexandra was a hardworking teen, she worked all through high school and graduated among the highest percentile in her class.
On June 2, 2012, Alexandra’s parents presented her with a lavish, wedding at Adolphus, 1912 Baroque style, five star hotel in Dallas Texas. The extravagant nuptials included music played by the popular Mexican band “Bando Recodo”. In his testimony, “Mamito” stated he thought the band fee was 250 thousand dollars.
Zulema, in her June 25th, 2012 FBI interview, she spoke of her daughters recent wedding at the Adolphus, and that it was paid for by she and her husband Jose.
The agent asked her how the family was able to afford such an extravagant wedding. Zulema replied, that she was uncertain, but that “Jose took care of it”, but he had told her it was paid for by “bonuses” the family had received.
One can imagine Alexandra’s excitement over her dream wedding, which was followed by a European honeymoon.
Then just nine days later, her world came crashing down, and the dream dissipated into a real life nightmare, when hundreds of DOJ, FBI and DEA agents descended on the family home and businesses in a raid that would confiscate voluminous amounts evidence and conduct arrests of scores of defendants with charges relating to money laundering and other crimes benefiting the Los Zetas cartel.
The judge said that he wasn’t confident she could follow a longer than 2 year supervised probation period due to the situation of her Marine husband who was to be stationed different places.
Alejandra Garcia Trevino confidently said that her Marine husband has vowed to keep her following the letter of the law and thanked the judge.
He waved drug testing and said she was to provide all financial information is to be provided.
Raul Ramirez represented by Robert Harris-sentence 12 months and 1 day, 3 years’ probation no forfeiture of property
Raul Ramirez, 21 years old, played a small role in the money laundering scheme. He called Scott Lawson. He was too scared to testify.
Raul, an American citizen, was born in El Paso Texas, though grew up in the Mexican town of San Augustin. It is accurate to state that he was born into horse racing, having been introduced to the sport at an early age, his family owned a business of caring for horses for many years. His father and brother Edgar also are involved in horse racing.
He moved to New Mexico in 2010 to work for who he identified as “Fernando Garcia”, (Solis Garcia) after brother Edgar had been working for Fernando for several months. Raul was paid 500USD per week, cash, to train and care for Fernando’s horses. Unbeknownst to Raul and his brother, the true nature of his employment was revealed early 2011 at a Ruidoso N.M. horse auction.
Just prior to entering the auction, Fernando and Carlos Nayen asked Raul and his friend Rene Ruiz to bid on horses for them. Nayen explained the request by saying that he and Fernando were from Mexico, and if other people saw they were bidding, they would hike the prices on them. He assured Raul and Ruiz he would pay for the horses. In effect Ramirez was being used to front shell companies in the bidding for quarter horses.
After the auction STALLIONSSEARCH.COM ran a post indicating that Raul was the lead buyer.
He did not stay long in N.M. and after a brief stay in SoCal training horses with Felipe Quintero, he returned home to El Paso. Raul said he was unaware of Zetas involvement by Nayen or Fernando, until after August 2010. Raul’s brother Edgar was the jockey riding “Mr. Piloto”, owned by Fernando, in the American Futurities Race, winning the race.
To celebrate Fernando held a huge cookout in N.M. where Raul was introduced to Jose Treviño, brother of 40 and 42 and he learned that “Mr. Piloto” was in reality owned by Jose Treviño’s company Tremor Enterprises.
Raul, in his FBI interrogation said that it is not uncommon for drug traffickers to also be involved in horse racing. In Mexico they go hand and hand.
A little over a year ago, the then 20 year old Ramirez was arrested while trying to enter the United States from Mexico through the international crossroads of Fabens, Texas.
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