In El Paso Friday morning, 41-year-old Samuel Velasco Gurrola was sentenced to life in federal prison for his role in a murder-for-hire plot.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr., Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Waldemar Rodriguez, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Will R. Glaspy, and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge Douglas E. Lindquist.
On October 17, 2016, a federal jury convicted Velasco of three counts of conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country and four counts of conspiracy to cause foreign travel for murder for hire.
(Oct 24, 2016 – Learn More, courtesy of Wochit News and YouTube)
Following his conviction in the murder-for-hire plot, on November 18, 2016, Velasco pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) statute, namely acts of drug trafficking and money laundering.
Senior United States District Judge David Briones imposed a life-imprisonment sentence on each of the seven murder-related charges—four involving foreign travel to run consecutive, the other three to run concurrent.
Judge Briones also imposed a 35-year concurrent prison term for conspiracy to violate the RICO statute. In addition to the prison term, Judge Briones ordered that Velasco pay over $1 million in restitution to the families of his victims; and, a money judgment for $12,480,000, to be paid joint and several with his brother.
Judge Briones also ordered that Velasco forfeit to the Government two real estate properties he owned in El Paso as well as $85,000 in U.S. Currency and two vehicles seized by authorities.
“The Velascos perpetrated some of the most diabolical and cruel crimes imaginable,” stated United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr.”
“To avoid responsibility for sexually assaulting a child, Samuel enlisted his brother Emanuel and his criminal organization to kill his wife to prevent her from testifying against him.”
“By the time he was he was done, his wife, her father, her sister, and a friend had been slaughtered. The life sentence imposed shows much more mercy than he ever did.”
According to evidence presented during his trial, in 2008, Samuel Velasco was married to Ruth Sagredo Escobedo. At the time, he was under indictment in El Paso County for aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child.
Evidence further revealed that from September 2008 until November 2008, Samuel initiated a plot, with Emmanuel’s help, to kill Sagredo while in Mexico in order to prevent her from testifying in the State case.
Testimony revealed that with Emmanuel’s help, Samuel also arranged to have Sagredo’s father and sister killed in an attempt to lure Sagredo to Mexico. On October 3, 2008, Francisco Maria Sagredo Villareal, Samuel’s father-in-law, was murdered in his house in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico.
On November 20, 2008, Francisco’s daughter, Cinthia Sagredo Escobedo, was murdered in Ciudad Juarez. Two days later, while traveling to her sister Cinthia’s funeral, Ruth Sagredo Escobedo and her friend Roberto Martinez were ambushed and murdered.
Judge Briones sentenced Emmanuel to life in federal prison and ordered him to pay over $1 million in restitution to the families of his victims; and, a money judgment for $12,480,000.
Judge Briones also ordered that Emmanuel forfeit to the Government various real estate properties he owned in El Paso and Midland counties as well as a condominium located on the Las Vegas Strip.
According to court records, Emmanuel was the leader of a criminal organization that ran a cross-border car theft ring and imported and distributed tons of marijuana.
His organization also engaged in an international kidnapping scheme whereby victims were kidnapped and held in Juarez, Mexico, while he and other criminal associates located in El Paso extorted ransom payment from the victims’ families.
“These life sentences sends a clear message to transnational criminal organizations. HSI and its law enforcement partners are committed to ensuring the safety and security of our border community,” said Waldemar Rodriguez, special agent in charge of HSI El Paso.
“The Velascos fall into the category of the ‘worst of the worst’ criminals. Their actions have devastated a family on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border.
The DEA is proud to have played a role with our law enforcement partners in bringing them to justice and ensuring that never again will they be able to commit an act of violence in the Borderland,” said Will R. Glaspy, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s El Paso Division.
“The sentence handed down today is the result of outstanding efforts by the FBI and our partner agencies, DEA and HSI. Two murderers are behind bars. Justice has been served for the victims, their families, and the greater border community,” stated Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge Douglas E. Lindquist, El Paso Division.
Emmanuel and Samuel’s sister, 44-year-old Dalia Valencia, pleaded guilty to the RICO conspiracy chargeprior to jury selection in the above-mentioned trial. Valencia is scheduled for sentencing at 9:30am on April 19, 2017, before Judge Briones.
Samuel’s other sister, 43-year-old Monica Velasco, remains a fugitive in this case. Monica Velasco is charged with conspiracy to violate the RICO statute, two money laundering counts and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and import over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana.
If you have information as to Monica Velasco’s whereabouts, contact the United States Marshals Service in El Paso at (915) 534-6779.
This investigation was conducted by the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the United States Marshals Service and the El Paso Police Department.
Assistant United States Attorneys Daphne Newaz and John Gibson are prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.