RUIDOSO DOWNS, N.M. (AP) — Federal authorities raided a sprawling ranch in Oklahoma and a prominent quarter horse race track in New Mexico Tuesday, part of an investigation that a published report said was connected to a horse breeding operation run by the brother of a high-ranking official in a Mexican drug cartel.
Ruidoso Downs, N.M., Police Chief Doug Babcock said agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided the track Tuesday morning to serve an arrest warrant. Dozens of federal agents had taken over the stables wearing bulletproof vests and were collecting evidence. At least two horses were seen being led away from the stables.
In Oklahoma, an FBI spokesman confirmed that a ranch in Lexington, about 40 miles south of Oklahoma City, was raided, but he did not discuss details. At least a half-dozen agents wearing fatigues and baseball caps emblazoned with FBI were still at the ranch early in the afternoon, but declined to comment. The spokesman, Clayton Simmonds, said he couldn't elaborate because arrest, search and seizure warrants were sealed.
"We are executing warrants in the Lexington area in reference to an ongoing law enforcement investigation," said Simmonds.
It was not immediately clear who was arrested in the raids, or when they might appear in court.
The New York Times (http://nyti.ms/KqFFiY) reported on its website that the raids involved Tremor Enterprises, a horse breeding operation run by the younger brother of a person authorities on both sides of the border have identified as a high-ranking official in Mexico's Zetas drug trafficking organization. The newspaper, citing a months-long investigation and several anonymous sources, says Tremor was used to launder millions in drug money and described how the horse breeding operation hid in plain sight, even naming one horse "Number One Cartel," and quietly rose to win some of the industry's biggest races.
New Mexico Racing Commission executive director Vince Mares confirmed there was a raid at the track but referred all questions to the FBI. He said the oversight board had worked with federal investigators and was aware of the raid in advance but declined to give any other details.
Associated Press Writer Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City and Rochelle Hines in Lexington, Okla., contributed to this report.