Judge: Man in Zetas horse case can be released on bond

Prosecutors fought for no bail

POSTED: 06:10 PM MDT Jun 22, 2012    UPDATED: 06:21 PM MDT Jun 22, 2012 
EL PASO, Texas -

Another player in the alleged multistate money-laundering conspiracy made an appearance in federal court in El Paso, Texas, on Friday.

Raul Ramirez, 20, of San Elizario, Texas, is accused of bidding at racehorse auctions in Ruidoso for leaders of the Mexican drug cartel known as Los Zetas.

Prosecutors argued to deny Ramirez bond because, they say, he is a flight risk and a threat to potential witnesses and jurors.

Ramirez's attorney, Robert Harris, said during Friday's detention hearing that his client earned $500 a week, was not paid to bid and ignored the origin of the money used to buy horses.

The judge set Ramirez's bond at $10,000 cash after he ruled there was not enough evidence to keep Ramirez in jail.

According to the 25-page indictment, Ramirez and a group of others bid on 23 quarter horses in September 2010.

After the auction, Francisco Colorado Cessa paid out more than $2 million for the horses, according to the indictment.

The document shows Cessa later transferred ownership of the horses to Jose Treviño, the brother of two prominent Zetas leaders.

Federal court documents also include an informant's claim that one of the Zetas leaders bragged about fixing the 2010 All-American Futurity race at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico that won him $1 million.

Now, the New Mexico Racing Commission is adopting new regulations for drug testing horses.

A local racehorse owner told ABC-7 it's about time.

"Sunland (Park Racetrack) always has been stringent on drug testing, drug testing people that work there, jockeys, all of that stuff. It's past due for the New Mexico Racing Commission to get their head out of the sand and do exactly what Sunland Park's been doing," Jim Paul said.

Paul said all the negative publicity on New Mexico's horse racing industry may have an effect on the future of it but not in the long-term.

"It's not going to affect it. There will be a time period where the betters are wondering about, 'Is it fixed or not fixed?' But if you realize how hard it is to fix a horse race, especially a quarter horse race that's 18 seconds long, you realize how impossible it is," Paul said.

Ramirez turned himself in Monday at a port of entry in El Paso. He is charged with one count of money laundering. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

Of the 14 people indicted in this case, eight are in custody, one has been granted bail and five remain at large.