A powerful Mexican-based drug cartel used Bank of America accounts as a way of investing money in its U.S. horse-racing operation, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
Citing a 75-page affidavit filed in a federal court in Austin, Texas, the newspaper said it learned from FBI sources that Los Zetas had deposited or withdrawn about $1.5 million in two Bank of America accounts since December 2009.
Seven alleged members of the cartel, which is accused of running a crime kingdom stretching from the U.S.-Mexico border into Central America, were arrested in early June. Several leaders of Los Zetas remain at large, federal investigators say.
The Journal, citing federal sources, said Bank of America is not accused of any wrongdoing and has been cooperating with investigators.
The alleged link between the Zetas and horse racing was disclosed last month during the arrest of the seven people. Those taken into custody included Jose Trevino Morales and his wife, Zulema Trevino. Federal authorities say Morales is the brother of two of the cartels alleged leaders, Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, nicknamed Z-40, and Oscar Omar Trevino Morales, known as Z-42. They are at large in Mexico, according to the FBI.
Federal authorities accuse Los Zetas of smuggling cocaine, heroin, marijuana and crystal meth into the United States. But the cartel also is involved in extortion, kidnapping and oil theft, according to federal investigators.
Federal investigators last month accused the Zetas of being behind the horse-racing operation named Tremor Enterprises LLC.
Tremor Enterprises was based near Oklahoma City and had become a leading player in the quarter horse racing industry. A horse owned by Tremor, Mr. Piloto, won the All American Futurity in September 2010 at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico. That is the biggest race of the year for quarter horses.
During the arrests last month, the 28-year-old trainer of Mr. Piloto, Felipe Quintero, was among those taken into custody.
In its report Monday, the Journal said FBI papers showed a check for nearly $900,000 was deposited into a Bank of America account held by Tremor Enterprises following the 2010 All American Futurity.