Feds Bust Meth Ring Operating Out of Iowa Thoroughbred Farm

by | 12.19.2013 | 4:58pm
Crystal Meth

A drug ring based in part at an Iowa Thoroughbred farm was busted last month, and one of the special agents investigating the case said it was a “Mexican cartel” type of operation infiltrating horse-related businesses at an increasing rate.

A sting set up by the federal agents and the Mid Iowa Narcotics Enforcement (MINE) Task Force led to the arrest of Emiliano Villegas Caballero, who worked and lived on the farm of leading trainer and Prairie Meadows Hall of Fame inductee Dick Clark. Villegas Caballero was being held in the Polk County jail after being charged in federal court with being “an illegal alien in possession of a firearm.”

Lt. Brad Shutts of the MINE Task Force said Villegas Caballero was storing large quantities of “ice” methamphetamines at a residence on Clark's farm in Mingo, Iowa, then transferring the drugs to a distribution operation, at another farm Villegas Caballero had purchased just off Interstate 80 in nearby Colfax. Colfax is about 15 miles east of Prairie Meadows.

Shutts said Clark, who lived on the farm in a different residence, was “shocked” to learn of the drug distribution ring and cooperated fully in the investigation.

Agents of the U.S. government's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, using GPS tracking devices and several confidential informants making controlled purchases, worked with local authorities on the case.

A total of $90,000 in cash was seized at the Colfax property and at Villegas Caballero's residence on Clark's farm, where two pounds of methamphetamines were discovered. Bank records indicating large cash deposits also were found, along with multiple firearms.

Two other men, including Ulises Sevilla-Lozano, identified as the “mastermind” of the operation, were also arrested.

“This was the largest quantity we'd ever seen,” said Shutts. “This was a major, Mexican cartel type of operation. We are finding that many of these Mexican meth rings are horse track or horse business related.”

The indictment of Villegas Caballero said methamphetamine and other drugs were brought from California in semi-trucks, then loaded into horse trailers at the Colfax farm and taken to Clark's farm in Mingo “for storage.”

Clark told the Paulick Report Villegas Caballero had been working for him “off and on for 10 or 12 years.

“He did chores and took care of the horses at my farm,” said Clark. “I knew that he might have been doing some match racing at the Colfax farm with Quarter horses but this really surprised me, I tell you.”

  • Hamish

    Wow, another federal bureau associating criminal activity with a “horse track or horse business.” Hard to imagine what might be coming next.

  • betterthannothing

    Here we go again.

  • Harry

    Well Mr. Clark stated he was “shocked” so clearly he is innocent! LOL!

    • Bobby

      I’ve known Dick for a long time and there’s no way he knew this was going on at his own farm or he would’ve shot the wet back. No doubt.

  • Trey

    Obama will set him free!

    • Mary Beth

      another one who might not know nothing about the immigration reform. No, Obama will not set him free. Stop being ignorant.

      • rachel

        In the Senate bill (S.744) that passed and now sits in the House you’re allowed 2 “misdemeanor” convictions (including domestic abuse) and be involved in gang activity and still be eligible to stay, and you can stop deportation process completely until you exhaust all appeals, even for serious felonies….seriously.

        • Birdy2

          If the saintly standards you’d like to see applied to immigrants were applied to licensees at the tracks in this country, shedrows everywhere would be half full. A large number of trainers, owners, jockeys, grooms, hotwalkers (not to mention a significant number of racing officials) would be gone… and I’m talking about just the Anglos. Toss the immigrants, and there’s nobody left. P.S. Anyone so filled with hatred for Mexicans really ought find something besides TB racing to occupy his or her time. Find me a track where all the dirty work isn’t done by Mexicans… well, you can’t. In Finland, perhaps, but not here.

  • john

    I’ve known Dick Clark for many years and I guarantee you that the old man had no clue this was going on.

    • Sammy


    • Birdy2

      Would it be that Mr. Clark is elderly and really did not know, or would this be like trainer Paul Jones and the Graham family (SW Stallion Station) who earned zillions from Los Zetas yet chose not to wonder how a guy like Jose Trevino (working-class Mexican, very obviously not from money) came up with briefcases full of cash? I knew Jose (I’m a TB owner not QH, but Texas racing is a small town), drank beer with him and his posse after they won a big race at LSP, and quickly figured out that these boys were bad news. Too much cash flashed around, too much generosity… So, did Mr. Clark know and pretend not to know (like every single Anglo associated with Los Zetas, although one would think that a racing stable called “Fast and Furious LLC” incorporated in Laredo would’ve aroused their suspicions) or did he really NOT know? Having watched the Los Zetas business go down — and knowing how hundred of thousands in untraceable bills can warp formerly-decent people (several of whom were ultra-conservative, vociferously anti-immigrant before their eyes landed on all that dinero) — I’d love to know the answer.

    • Harry

      bull pucky!

  • Richard C

    Huh? We all thought it was chunky sugar.

  • Ben Hogan

    Much like the prominent trainer arrested in New Mexico who was distributing the drugs at his match racing facility.Match racing is not only bad for the horses running there, it seems to be an attractant to the ATF,DEA,IRS and lots of other initials the feds have.

    • betterthannothing

      The worst offenders always seem to be tied to Quarter horse racing. It is so damn sad for those horses.

  • Patricia Jones

    can’t or won’t solve the problems of racing more variety in the barrel

  • Sean Kerr

    Will the Eclipse award committee be issuing a “Heisenberg” award?

  • Concerned Observer

    It’s everywhere…Unfortunatly the headline could have read BUSTS METH LAB AT
    trailer park, Apartment complex, campus,convenience store, school, church, back of a van, and it involves lots of born in America folks.
    The word “thoroughbred” got our attention.

    • RayPaulick

      The reason this is news is the comment from Lt Shutts about how the Mexican cartel is using people in horse-related jobs to operate their distribution centers.

      • equine avenger

        That’s because most of these workers are illegals with fake IDs and can hide out or remain here for years and years on farms, training centers and barn areas at the race tracks.

        • Birdy2

          Ah bon ? And who do you think buys the stuff from them? Anglos with money, that’s who. No market, and there would be no product. It’s true that illegals can hide out at farms (and feed lots and slaughterhouses and in Denny’s kitchens), but if you’re saying that most Mexicans at most tracks are illegals, you are wrong. When was the last time you were on the backside in the morning, working alongside a bunch of Mexicans? Do you speak Spanish? I thought not.

          • equine avenger

            When was the last time? Try this morning….I do it everyday and have been for nearly four decade.

          • equine avenger

            And most Mexicans at most tracks are illegals. They have two names….the fake name on their drivers license(if they have one) and their track ID…..and then there is their real names….the one you don’t know about.

  • photo.patty

    How could you have semi trucks loading and unloading on your farm and not know??

    • Mimi Hunter

      It would be easy to miss it – an odd truck here and there – Mr. Clark most likely has at least his feed delivered in semi’s or other large trucks and trailers.

  • Ladyofthelake

    It would be interesting to know how widespread they think it is & exactly which “horse related businesses” it has infiltrated (that could mean just about anything.) Mostly in Iowa or everywhere?

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