Review of Bloodlines: The True Story of a Drug Cartel, the FBI, and the Battle for a Horse-Racing Dynasty written by Melissa del Bosque
This is a story about the good guys getting the bad guys. And when I say bad guys, these aren’t your run-of-the-mill bad guys. I’m talking Breaking Bad, drug cartel bad guys.
Melissa del Bosque’s expose unravels a twisted story of murder, kidnapping, extortion, torture, horse racing, and money laundering. It all starts when the FBI is alerted to an unusually high price paid for a horse at auction. The FBI spends the next three years piecing together how three brothers, two of them high up in the Zetas drug cartel, funneled drug profits into horse racing and breeding.
The author does an excellent job of walking the reader through the intricacies of structured deposits, shell companies, horse racing, and breeding. Some of the proceeds are legitimate. Most of it is not. Miguel Trevino and his brother, Omar, fixed races through doping and intimidation. They also had the advantage of buying up all of the best horses and seeding the field with three or four of the top horses, all but guaranteeing a win.
To make the whole enterprise look legitimate, Miguel and Omar enlisted the help of their brother Jose, who lived a quiet life in San Antonio, working as a bricklayer. In a short time, Jose went from $50,000 a year to making enough money to buy a ranch and start a horse breeding business.
Hot on his trail, though, was a rookie FBI agent named Scott Lawson. Over three years, Scott and a small team of FBI agents and a couple of IRS agents put together a charging document that would ultimately lead to the undoing of the entire scheme. They confiscated all of the cartel’s horses and were successful in getting lengthy prison sentences for Jose Trevino and a cast of co-conspirators. Jose’s brothers, Miguel and Omar Trevino ended up in Mexican prisons.
A convoluted story like this could take years to unravel. The author, however, had the good fortune of having the work of the FBI, along with the thousands of pages of trial transcripts and depositions to draw upon. Add in the author’s research and personal interviews, and you have the making of a compelling nonfiction narrative.