Nine people arrested after illegal horse racing track is closed in Parker County

Nine suspects were arrested Sunday after law enforcement shut down an illegal horse racing operation in Parker County, authorities said.

The illegal operation, often referred to as “brush tracks,” was attended by more than 1,000 spectators, none of whom were arrested, according to investigators. Dozens of horses were found at the track, located at 1377 Walnut Creek Drive in Springtown.

The Texas Animal Health Commission completed over 40 livestock inspections on vehicles which hauled 82 horses and reported there were 147 violations issued for no equine infectious anemia and other medical tests.

Investigators found only one horse had the proper paperwork. Officials said illegal shocking devices typically used to enhance the performance of horses were also found.

No horses were seized during the operation, according to the Parker County Sheriff’s Office. The horses were sent home with their owners and the owners were required to hold the animals on their premises and perform the required medical testing or else face fines, an official with the Texas Animal Health Commission said.

“The Racing Act was established in order to keep horses from racing more than once in a 24-hour period,” Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler said. “Most of the horses and jockeys were found to be racing twice in the same weekend. These laws were created to protect them.”

Several large syringes and drug paraphernalia were found on the scene, Fowler said.

“Some of the syringes were empty and some were full,” he said. “The substances are being tested for illegal substances, potentially harmful to equines. It allows a horse to be pushed to the limits under a race, but can cause serious health conditions and even result in the death of a horse.”

Fowler said he wanted to thank the Texas Department of Public Safety for allowing the Sheriff’s Office patrol, animal control division, and Special Crimes Unit to assist in the operation.

Several of those arrested had Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers placed on them and are being held without bond.

One suspect, identified as Ricardo Guerrero Perez, 56, of Fort Worth, was arrested on a parole warrant and a possession of marijuana warrant out of Childress County.

The woman suspected of heading of the illegal horse race operation was identified as Yesenia Garza, 41, of Arlington, and she was being held on $30,000 bond in the Parker County Jail on a racing act violation charge Monday, jail records show.

Bonds were withheld due to ICE detainers for Jessica Judith Davila, 40, of Fort Worth; Edgar Valentin Mendoza, 35, of Fort Worth; and Juan Francisco Renteria, 34, of Dallas.

The remaining suspects — Blanca Gonsalez, 50, of Springtown; Ever Noruf Rodriguez-Rodriguez, 32, of Arlington; Pablo Erasmo Solis, 32, of Irving; Ivan Raymundo Suarez, 23, of Dallas; and Alonso Venzor, 21, of Irving — face violation of the racing act charges and were being held in the Parker County Jail on $15,000 bonds on Monday, jail records show.

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Mitch Mitchell is an award-winning reporter covering courts and crime for the Star-Telegram. Additionally, Mitch’s past coverage on municipal government, healthcare and social services beats allow him to bring experience and context to the stories he writes.