A key official of Mexico's infamous Los Zetas drug cartel got a tough reminder today that the U.S. justice system works a little differently than the one back home.


   Francisco Colorado Cessa and his son were charged by federal prosecutors in Texas with offering a federal judge a $1.2 million bribe to go easy on Colorado Cessa, when he was sentenced for his role in a complicated scheme to launder Zetas drug money.


  The criminal complaint says Colorado Cessa, 52, who is a businessman in Veracruz Mexico, his son Francisco Colorado Cessa, Jr. 25, and a business associate, Ramon Segura Flores, 52, approached a federal judge over the past two months 'and conspired to pay a bribe in order to secure a reduced sentence for Colorado Cessa.'  an affidavit says a 'confidential source' informed the FBI in July about the attempt to bribe the judge.


  Pittman didn't identify the judge involved, but the judge who has been handling the case is veteran U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks.  Sparks has been a federal judge in Austin for more than twenty years, and handled high profile cases involving defendants including former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, the Fisher v. University of Texas affirmative action case which was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court last year, and the trial of the men who killed prominent atheist Madelyn Murray O'Hair.


  "At no time before or during this investigation was the judge involved in the alleged criminal activity," the complaint said.


   Colorado Cessa yesterday was sentenced to the maximum, 20 years, for his role in a bizarre scheme to launder Los Zetas drug proceeds by buying and racing American Quarter Horses.


  "The latest allegation, if proven, demonstrates that individuals associated with the most violent drug cartel believe they can corrupt what we hold as the bedrock of American justice--the United States Courts," U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman said.


  "If they continue to try function as they do in Mexico, we will find them, we will stop them, and we will do whatever it takes to ensure that they are punished to the full extent of the law."


  The younger Colorado Cessa and Segura were arrested without incident and have an initial court appearance set for later today.


  Colorado was sentenced on Thursday along with the brother of the Zetas leaders and a third man, with laundering as much as $60 million in Zetas drug proceeds by buying hundreds of Quarter Horses in the United States.