Today's award goes to a group of Mexican cartel drug bosses and their henchmen. Criminals are generally not renowned for their intelligence, so when they've got more money than sense, they tend to handle that money in ways that scream to the cops, "Hey - why don't you investigate where this came from?" That's what these doofi did. The New York Times reports:
... the Treviño brothers ... managed to establish a prominent horse breeding operation in the United States, Tremor Enterprises, that allowed them to launder millions of dollars in drug money, according to current and former federal law enforcement officials. The operation amounted to a foothold in the United States for one of Mexico’s most dangerous criminal networks, the officials said.
Using Miguel Ángel Treviño’s cash, José Treviño’s legal residency and Mr. Villarreal’s eye for a good horse, Tremor bought a sprawling ranch in Oklahoma and an estimated 300 stallions and mares. The Treviño brothers might have kept their operation quiet, given the criminal connection, but their passion for horses and winning apparently proved too tempting. In the short span of three years, Tremor won three of the industry’s biggest races, with prizes totaling some $2.5 million.
The business was “so far out there it’s hard to believe,” said Morris Panner, a former prosecutor who handled drug cases. “Maybe they were using some kind of perverse logic that told them they could hide in plain sight, precisely because people wouldn’t believe it or question it.”
The Justice Department moved against Tremor on Tuesday morning, sending several helicopters and hundreds of law enforcement agents to the company’s stables in Ruidoso and its ranch in Oklahoma. José Treviño and several associates were taken into custody and were charged later in the day, the authorities said.
Miguel Ángel Treviño and another brother, Omar, were also charged. The two remain at large in Mexico. Omar Treviño is also a high-ranking member of the Zetas, and an F.B.I. affidavit filed in United States District Court describes him as participating in the money laundering.
The affidavit said the Zetas funneled about $1 million a month into buying quarter horses in the United States. The authorities were tipped off to Tremor’s activities in January 2010, when the Zetas paid more than $1 million in a single day for two broodmares, the affidavit said.
There's more at the link.
Talk about "if you've got it, flaunt it"! They certainly did flaunt it . . . and paid the penalty for their stupidity. I particularly liked this little touch (bold print is my emphasis):
The buzz around Tremor’s winnings and acquisitions began three years ago, when José Treviño bought an estimated $3 million in quarter horses, including one named Number One Cartel.
How stupid can you get???