El Paso man accused of helping Zetas appears in court
June 21st 2012 · 2 Comments
Raul Ramirez, 20, was arrested in El Paso on Monday afternoon, said Daryl Fields, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in San Antonio.
Ramirez was indicted on May 30 along with 13 others, four of whom remain at large, and one who has posted bond. The group is accused of using $20 million raised since 2008 by Los Zetas cartel to buy, sell and race quarter horses — including at Ruidoso Downs Racetrack and Casino.
Among those indicted was Miguel Angel Treviño Morales, 38, also known as “40.” He is co-leader of the Nuevo Laredo-based Zetas, federal authorities said in court documents.
Treviño and a brother, Oscar Omar Treviño Morales, 36, also known as “42,” are thought to be hiding in Mexico. A third brother, Jose Treviño Morales, 45, was arrested last week in Oklahoma on allegations that he ran his brothers’ U.S. horse operation.
Ramirez is accused of bidding on quarter horses for the Treviños on behalf of shell companies meant to hide the horses’ true ownership.
He is charged with a single count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. If convicted, Ramirez faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Mesa told him in court on Tuesday.
Standing with about 25 other prisoners in shackles, chains and a jail jumpsuit, Ramirez responded “Presente” when Mesa called his name. But the slight young man said he did not need a headset carrying a Spanish translation of the proceedings.
Ramirez told the judge that he planned to hire his own lawyer, who is expected to be present when Ramirez appears for a bond hearing on Friday.
Federal prosecutors have filed papers asking that Ramirez be denied bail, citing the risk that he might flee and “a serious risk that the person will obstruct or attempt to obstruct justice, or attempt to threaten, injure or intimidate a prospective witness or juror.”
Los Zetas have become known in recent months for dumping scores of bodies in Mexico with no heads, hands or feet.
Informants told federal agents that Oscar Treviño has boasted that he personally has killed more than 1,000 people and his brother, Miguel, has killed more than 2,000, according to an affidavit supporting a search warrant that was executed last week in Balch Springs, Texas.
The affidavit supporting the search warrant served at Ruidoso Downs Racetrack remains sealed, Fields said.
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