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Press Release

Mexican Businessman Sentenced to Federal Prison for Role in Los Zetas Money Laundering Scheme and Bribery

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Texas

In Austin, 55-year-old Veracruz, Mexico businessman Francisco Antonio Colorado-Cessa (aka “Pancho”), was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for laundering Los Zetas drug proceeds and attempting to bribe a federal judge announced United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr., FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge William Cotter.

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Donald E. Walter ordered that Colorado-Cessa forfeit to the U.S. Government $60 million in U.S. Currency and property—proceeds seized by authorities involved in the money laundering scheme—including two planes and five bank accounts.

In December 2015, a federal jury in Austin convicted Colorado-Cessa, the owner of ADT Petroservicios, an oil services company in Mexico doing business with the Mexican National Oil Company PEMEX, of one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.  The conspiracy charge centered on 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. 

In January 2016, a separate federal jury found Colorado-Cessa 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 the above-mentioned 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. 

“Today’s resentencing of Francisco Colorado-Cessa to 20 years in prison is confirmation that the American public is steadfast in their conviction that he was properly found guilty of money laundering and bribery the first time,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge William Cotter, San Antonio Field Office. “Even with a second trial, the jury quickly came to the same conclusion – guilty. IRS Criminal Investigation was proud to be part of the law enforcement team that brought this criminal to justice.”

“The sentence handed down today ends years of litigation, and imposes significant punishment upon the defendant.  The FBI appreciates the hard work and dedication of all the prosecutors and agents who have handled this important case, which demonstrates our collective commitment to protect the United States from the violence and corruption associated with Mexican drug cartels,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs, San Antonio Division. 

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).

Updated March 24, 2016

Financial Fraud