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Locals React To Quarter Horse, Drug Cartel Operation In Lexington

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Jose Morales ran his successful horse breeding operation from the ranch in Lexington and for the most part, those in the Oklahoma quarter horse industry say nothing appeared especially out of the ordinary. Jose Morales ran his successful horse breeding operation from the ranch in Lexington and for the most part, those in the Oklahoma quarter horse industry say nothing appeared especially out of the ordinary.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

Oklahoma's Quarter horse industry is now caught in the middle of a federal investigation into one of Mexico's most powerful drug cartels. This after a horse ranch in Lexington was raided by federal agents earlier this week.  

The US attorney prosecuting this case says this is a prime example of the ability of Mexican drug cartels to establish footholds in legitimate industries.

In 2010 Jose Morales won the All American Futurity, considered the Kentucky Derby of quarter horse racing.

Morales ran his successful horse breeding operation from the ranch in Lexington and for the most part, those in the Oklahoma quarter horse industry say nothing appeared especially out of the ordinary.

"I couldn't point out Morales if I tried to," said Bill Bullock who raises quarter horses at his Pine Ridge farm in Yukon.   He does know however, that Morales would typically sit with other Hispanics at sales.

"I think the Mexicans paid high dollar for the horses, but exactly how much higher I don't know," said Bullock.

6/13/2012 Related Story: FBI: Oklahoma Horse Operation Was Front For Mexican Drug Cartel

Others, however, who attended the sales at Oklahoma City's Heritage Place say they were shocked at the prices Morales was paying and that it was known that he would pay far above market value.

Federal prosecutors say Morales used millions of dollars in drug money to purchase quarter horses. He would often have Mexican businessmen purchase the animals then reimburse them later.

Prosecutors say the tranquil horse ranch was in stark contrast to the ruthless drug cartel it was fronting which those fighting the drug war say is typical.

"A lot of them try not to draw attention to themselves. They try to blend into the community," said Mark Woodward, spokesperson for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.

And until federal agents swarmed the Lexington ranch, it seemed to be working.

"I was surprised it was happening this close to home," said Bullock.

A lot of people in the industry also told News 9, Morales was known for always paying his bills and not causing any trouble.  

Federal agents on Tuesday also raided Morales' stables at the Ruidoso Race Track in New Mexico.  Workers there say they were suspicious because they saw people show up with bags of cash to buy horses.

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