Filed Under:  Cartels, FBI, Texas

Alleged Zeta horse trainer held despite bail order

June 19th 2012   ·   2 Comments

Drug Raid Horse Track

This photo provided by the U.S. Marshals via the Statesman.com shows 48-year-old Eusevio Maldonado Huitron, According to court documents, Huitron owns property in the Bastrop County community of Dale and has trained and boarded dozens of horses that were funded with drug proceeds. (AP Photo/U.S. Marshal via Statesman.com)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal judge ruled Monday that a Texas horse trainer charged with conspiring to launder money for Mexico’s powerful Zetas drug cartel should be released on bail, rejecting the prosecution’s argument that the threat of cartel reprisals against him was so severe it could harm the surrounding community.

Eusevio Maldonado-Huitron remained in custody because federal prosecutors said they will appeal the decision. Hours later, however, federal prosecutors filed a motion to withdraw their appeal, clearing the way for Maldonado-Huitron’s release soon.

Maldonado-Huitron ran a horse farm in Bastrop County southeast of Austin and is among 15 people charged with helping the Zetas launder millions of dollars through quarter horse operations in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and California.

After listening to a string of witnesses in a bail hearing that stretched over two days, U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Austin said he was setting conditions for Maldonado-Huitron’s release, but he didn’t immediately make them public.

Prosecutors conceded that they had no evidence Maldonado-Huitron was violent but said there was a risk he could flee to Mexico and disappear given his family ties in that country. However, the greater danger in releasing him from federal custody, they argued, was the threat posed by the Zetas targeting him and his family — and by extension, the community at large.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Fernald said she was limited on what she could say in open court prior to trial. But she argued that Maldonado-Huitron should remain in custody given the “nature and seriousness of the danger to any member of the community,” due to both “the nature of this organization and the seriousness of the potential retaliation, not just to him but to his family members and anyone else.”

That argument was based on testimony Friday from FBI agent Haskell Wilkins, who said the defendant was a serious flight risk due to the possibility he could be targeted by the Zetas.

But Maldonado-Huitron’s attorney, assistant federal Public Defender Jose Gonzalez-Falla, countered Monday that “we haven’t heard anything to indicate” his client’s guilt. He said prosecutors’ arguments of “‘trust us, it’s in the indictment’” is not enough.

Gonzalez-Falla said Maldonado-Huitron is an illiterate horse trainer who poses no threat to the Zetas. An associate of Maldonado-Huitron’s from El Paso testified Monday that the trainer was actually dismissed weeks before his arrest because his horses were underperforming, which the defense attorney said meant his client was now even less important in the eyes of the cartel.

“Why on earth would they hit my client?” he asked. “What has he done? He’s a horse trainer.”

Also testifying Monday was Maldonado-Huitron’s brother, Jesus, who when asked if he knew what the Zetas were answered through an interpreter, “just what you hear on TV.”

“From what they say, they killed a lot of people in Mexico and then they toss the bodies out,” the elder Maldonado-Huitron testified.

Gonzalez-Falla said his client had a right to get paid for his services no matter who hired him, adding that the government’s arguments were based only on “a bunch of rumors about receiving some money.” He said prosecutors feared the ferociousness of any possible reprisals, “just because they’re the Zetas and they’re bad and they kill people and take their heads off.”

“What does that have to do with my client?” he asked.

Austin sided with the defense, saying Maldonado-Huitron’s family might be targeted, but that the threat was no less acute if the defendant was in prison. He said the only risk to the lager community he could see might be “someone’s horse might get beat in a race if Mr. Huitron trains the horse.”

Austin also said he appreciated the flight risk but couldn’t imagine the defendant fleeing to Mexico given how powerful the Zetas are there.

Maldonado-Huitron is “frankly, a lot better off in the United States than in Mexico, which is the only place I can see he’d flee to,” the judge said.

Related Posts:

Tags:  , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

By

Readers Comments (2)

  1. Nancy Daigle says:

    Good keep him in jail for enternity for all I care!!1

  2. Are they paying off judges in the US now? Releasing him would be a death sentence.





Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.

What is 12 + 4 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)

BEWARE

There may be graphic photographs that accompany some articles in the body of this report. It is not our intention to sensationalize. We include these photos in order to give to you, the American public, a clearer understanding of the seriousness of the situation we are in.

Polls

Why do you think the drug cartels are more violent in Mexico than the U.S.A.

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
Loading

Facebook



Opinions expressed by contributing writers are expressly their own and may or may not represent the opinions of The US Open Borders usopenborders.com, its editorial staff, board or organization. Reprint inquiries should be directed to the author of the article. Contact the editor for a link request to The US Open Borders. The US Open Borders is not affiliated with any mainstream media organizations. The US Open Borders is not supported by any political organization. The US Open Borders is a non-profit, non-partisan research and educational initiative. Responsibility for the accuracy of cited content is expressly that of the contributing author. All original content offered by The US Open Borders is copyrighted. US Open Borders goal is the liberation of the American voter from partisan politics and special interests in government through the primary-source, fact-based education of the American people.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance a more in-depth understanding of critical issues facing the world. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 USC Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to:http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.