The U.S. Justice Department said in a release the defendants are suspected of conspiring to use drug revenues to buy, train, breed and race American quarter horses in the United States.
The defendants named in the indictment handed up May 30 and unsealed Tuesday include Los Zetas leader Miguel Angel Trevino Morales and his brothers, Oscar and Jose. Seven of the suspects were arrested Tuesday.
The indictment alleges the defendants were involved in millions of dollars worth of transactions in New Mexico, Oklahoma, California and Texas.
"This investigation reveals the varied attempts by Mexican drug cartels to further their criminal enterprises by any means necessary," FBI Special Agent in Charge Armando Fernandez said. "As such, the FBI and its partners stand ready to combat all efforts by transnational criminal organizations to undermine our national security wherever and whenever they may be uncovered."
Federal authorities are seeking the forfeiture of numerous quarter horses, including Tempting Dash, winner of the 2009 Dash for Cash at Lone Star Park race track in Grand Prairie, Texas; Mr. Piloto, a $1 million All American Futurity winner at Ruidoso Downs on Labor Day, 2010; Dashin Follies; Coronita Cartel; and Separate Fire. The government also will go after farm and ranch equipment, horse racing equipment and real property in Lexington, Okla., and in Bastrop County, Texas; as well as cash in three bank accounts.
The indictment seeks a monetary judgment of $20 million, representing the amount of money derived from the defendants' alleged scheme.