The brother of captured Zetas leader Z40 has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for money laundering by a US court, as the top level of the Zetas command continues to unravel.
In May, Jose Treviño Morales was convicted by a Texas court of conspiracy to commit money laundering after he invested some $16 million in Zetas drug money into racing horses for a front business set up in collaboration with his brother Miguel Angel Treviño, alias “Z40.”
He was sentenced by a federal judge in Austin on September 5. Treviño continued to protest his innocence up to the moment of his sentencing, stating, “I am not a Zeta,” reported El Universal.
Two other convicted members of the operation were sentenced on the same day — a Mexican businessman and a horse trainer — and several others await sentencing.
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The US government began investigating the activities of Treviño’s horse breeding business, Tremor Enterprises, in 2010. The company’s stables in New Mexico and ranch in Oklahoma were raided by the US Justice Department in June 2012, and Treviño, his wife and five business associates were arrested.
The sentencing marks the end of a case that exposed an important Zetas money laundering structure and shed light on the organization’s reach into the United States.
This closure of the case follows the July capture of the Zetas main leader, Z40, who was arrested near the Mexican border town of Nuevo Laredo, and the addition of two Zetas members to the US Treasury’s “kingpin list” shortly after.
SEE ALSO: Zetas Profile
While the other Treviño brother, Omar, alias “Z42,” is still at large and is expected to now assume the leadership of the Zetas, the group has faced internal tensions leading to the emergence of splinter groups, and Z42’s ability to hold the organization together in his brother’s stead is questionable.
The August capture of the head of the Gulf Cartel — a major Zetas rival — left another hole in Mexico’s criminal landscape, opening the way for violent clashes between contenders to fill the power vacuum and raising the question of whether either organization will bounce back, or if they will continue to fragment.