Money Laundering Cartel Associates Convicted In Conspiracy To Bribe US Judge

Francisco Colorado Cessa was a major player in the Zetas money laundering scheme, including horse racing.
By Lorne Matalon
March 14, 2014
Francisco Cessa
Francisco Cessa, Jr.
Ramon Segura Flores

It happens regularly in Mexico, a judge is offered a bribe and the judge acceptes the bribe either willingly under under threat of death. But rarely is there such a brazen attempt to corrupt justice in the United States.

Three Mexican citizens have pleaded guilty to trying to bribe a U.S. federal judge. The judge was hearing a case on how the Zetas drug cartel, which controls large swaths of the Mexican border with Texas — laundered money by trading in American racehorses.

Francisco Colorado Cessa, his son Francisco Colorado Cessa, Jr., and their associate Ramon Segura Flores have admitted they tried to arrange a $1.2 million bribe for U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks.

They wanted to bribe the judge the day before he sentenced the elder Cessa for his role in the money laundering.

Segura and the younger Cessa tried to arrange the bribe to get a more lenient sentence for the senior Cessa, who already had been convicted for his role in spending nearly $25 million to buy and sell 500 racehorses to launder drug money.

The FBI used an undercover agent as an intermediary.

The defendants wanted a signal from the judge through use of a code word during sentencing, to prove that he had accepted the bribe.

But the U.S. Attorney says judge never even knew about the plan. He passed down the maximum punishment of 20 years in prison.

The scheme to launder drug money by buying American quarter horses was led by Jose Trevino Morales, the brother of the Zetas cartel's two leaders.

In May, a Texas jury found Morales guilty of spending investing $16 million of drug money to buy racehorses across the Southwest.

Francisco Cessa, Jr., is a university student and partner at ADT Servicios Petroleos in Mexico. His father offered to waive his right to appeal if his son were granted bail. The request was denied.