- Associated Press - Saturday, January 31, 2015

BASTROP, Texas (AP) - A Mexican businessman man imprisoned in Texas for laundering drug money in a horse racing scam says cartel leaders threatened to kill him if he refused to buy and sell the expensive animals.

Francisco Colorado Cessa recently told the Austin American-Statesman (https://bit.ly/1yYpHU8 ) during an interview from Bastrop County Jail that members of the Zetas cartel told him he could either buy the race horses or die.

Colorado, 53, in September 2013 was sentenced to a maximum 20 years in prison after being convicted of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Prosecutors say he spent nearly $25 million to buy and sell 500 racehorses to launder drug money.

Colorado wants the conviction dismissed on the basis of insufficient evidence, arguing he purchased those horses with legitimate funds and out of fear for his life. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently granted his case a review.

“There have been many false accusations made against me,” he said.

Some legal experts say Colorado’s case could serve as a litmus test because as criminal enterprises have become more globalized and their money laundering schemes more sophisticated. U.S. courts have been left to decide where to draw the line between accomplices and unknowing or unwilling enablers, the newspaper reported.

“Unexplained fortunes should not lead to convictions,” Chris Flood, one of Colorado’s lawyers, said.

Colorado last year pleaded guilty to attempting to bribe a federal judge in Austin in an attempt to get a lesser prison sentence.

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Information from: Austin American-Statesman, https://www.statesman.com


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