News and Press Releases


January 6, 2011

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, announced that defendant Mercedes Morales, 58, of Miramar, Florida, was sentenced today in a murder-for-hire plot. United States District Judge William J. Zloch sentenced Morales to 120 months in prison, the statutory maximum sentence, followed by a 5-year term of supervised release.

According to court documents, Morales contacted an individual to help her plan and execute the murder of her ex-husband. In fact, however, the individual whom the defendant contacted was a cooperating witness working at the direction of the FBI. According to documents filed with the court, during May 2010, in a series of recorded conversations at a Starbucks in Fort Lauderdale, Morales described her ex-husband as a “traitor” for having assisted federal authorities in an earlier investigation that led to the defendant’s 2003 conviction on federal money laundering charges, and specifically directed the cooperating witness to tell her ex-husband, right before his death, that the murder was ordered by “Mecha,” which is Morales’ nickname. To seal the deal, on May 26, 2010, Morales gave the cooperating witness a diamond ring, valued at more than $5,000, as a down payment on the murder.

Mr. Ferrer commended the efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in this case. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or on

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