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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Texas

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Jury Convicts Defendant in Los Zetas Money Laundering Case of Conspiracy and Bribery Charges

A federal jury today convicted 55-year-old Veracruz, Mexico businessman Francisco Antonio Colorado-Cessa (aka “Pancho”), of attempting to bribe a federal judge announced United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr., Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge William Cotter.

The jury, seated in Shreveport, Louisiana, found Colorado-Cessa, the owner of ADT Petroservicios, an oil services company in Mexico doing business with the Mexican National Oil Company PEMEX, guilty of one count of conspiracy to bribe a public official and one substantive count of bribery, by offer or promise, of a public official.  Evidence during trial revealed that Colorado-Cessa and others conspired in 2013 to pay a $1.2 million bribe to a federal judge in order to secure a reduced sentence for Colorado-Cessa in a related money laundering case.  According to court records, at no time before or during this investigation was the federal judge involved in the alleged criminal activity. 

On March 12, 2014, Colorado-Cessa, his son, Francisco Agustin Colorado Cebado (aka “Panchito”), and his business partner, Ramon Segura Flores, all pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to bribe a federal judge.  On July 22, 2014, visiting United States District Judge Donald E. Walter of the Western District of Louisiana sentenced Colorado Cebado and Segura Flores in Austin to a year and a day in federal prison and ordered them to pay a $10,000 fine for their roles in the scheme.  On February 2, 2015, Judge Walter sentenced Colorado-Cessa in Austin to five years in federal prison.  However, in October 2015, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Colorado-Cessa’s conviction and sentence and remanded the case back to the District Court.  On December 23, 2015, Judge Walter granted a defense motion for change of venue from Austin and ordered that jury selection and trial occur in Shreveport, LA.

In the related case, on December 10, 2015, a federal jury in Austin convicted Colorado-Cessa of one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with a scheme to launder millions of dollars in Los Zetas drug distribution proceeds through purchasing, training, breeding and racing American quarter horses in the United States.  Testimony during that trial revealed a shell game by Colorado Cessa, a close associate of the Zetas drug cartel’s top leaders including Miguel Angel Trevino Morales (aka “Z-40”), Oscar Omar Trevino Morales (aka “Z-42”), and others involving straw purchasers and transactions worth millions of dollars in New Mexico, Oklahoma, California and Texas to disguise the source of the drug money and make the proceeds from the sale of quarter horses or their race winnings appear legitimate.   

Over 400 quarter horses seized by federal authorities in June 2012 as part of the above mentioned money laundering operation have been sold for approximately $12 million.  One of the seized horses, Tempting Dash, winner of the Dash for Cash at Lone Star Park race track in Grand Prairie, TX, in October 2009, sold at an auction for a record $1.7 million in November 2013. 

As a result of both trial verdicts, Colorado-Cessa now faces up to 20 years in federal prison on the charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering; up to 15 years in federal prison for the charge of bribery by offer or promise; and, up to five years in federal prison for the charge of conspiracy to commit bribery.  Colorado-Cessa remains in federal custody pending sentencing.  No sentencing dates have been scheduled.

This investigation was conducted by agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration with assistance from the United States Marshals Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) and U.S. Border Patrol.  Other judicial districts involved in this matter include the Western District of Oklahoma, Central District of California, Southern District of Texas, District of New Mexico and the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

Drug Trafficking
Updated February 4, 2016