Illegal race meetings in New Mexico are major events that can sometimes draw bigger crowds than regulated events, a four-month inquiry by an investigative reporter reveals.
Larry Barker, who leads the KRQE News 13 investigative team, has revealed the extent of the illegal racing industry in the state, saying such races are held nearly every weekend.
The races involve big money, violence and animal cruelty, he reports.
“Clearly, drug organizations in New Mexico and Texas and other places are involved with these race tracks,” the Drug Enforcement Administration’s special agent in charge in Albuquerque, Keith Brown, told Barker.
Barker reports that spectators can travels hundreds of miles, some from Mexico, to participate in the meetings.
It was not unusual to find more people in the crowd at unlicensed race tracks than at The Downs of Albuquerque, a legal, regulated track at the State Fairgrounds, Barker wrote.
He identified several of the so-called bush tracks.
Vince Mares, executive director of the New Mexico Racing Commission, said: “There’s no regulations, so who knows what they are doing to these horses. And when they bring them on to our tracks, they break down. They die. They have to be euthanized. So who knows what happens?”
Barker’s full report can be read at