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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 23, 2017

El Paso Man Sentenced to Life in Federal Prison in Connection with Murder-For-Hire Plot

In El Paso this morning, 30-year-old Emmanuel Velasco Gurrola was sentenced to life in federal prison for his role in a murder-for-hire plot announced 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.

 

Senior United States District Judge David Briones imposed a life-imprisonment sentence on each count to which Velasco Gurrola pleaded guilty prior to trial: three counts of conspiracy to kill in a foreign country and one count of conspiracy to violate the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) statute. According to court records, Velasco Gurrola 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.

 

In addition to the prison term, Judge Briones ordered that Velasco Gurrola 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 Velasco Gurrola 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.

 

On October 17, 2016, a federal jury convicted Emmanuel’s 41–year-old brother, Samuel Velasco Gurrola, 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.

 

According to evidence presented during his trial, in 2008, Samuel Velasco Gurrola was married to Ruth Sagredo Escobedo. At the time, Samuel 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, Gurrola’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 Robert Martinez, were ambushed and murdered.

 

“This life sentence 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.

 

“Mr. Velasco Gurrola falls into the category of the ‘worst of the worst’ criminals. His 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 Velasco Gurrola to justice and ensuring that never again will he 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. A murderer is 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.

 

Following his conviction in the murder-for-hire plot, on November 18, 2016, Samuel Velasco Gurrola pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the RICO statute, namely acts of drug trafficking and money laundering. Emmanuel and Samuel’s sister, 44-year-old Dalia Valencia, pleaded guilty to the same charge prior to jury selection in the above-mentioned trial.

 

Samuel Velasco Gurrola is scheduled for sentencing tomorrow at 10:30am before Judge Briones. Dalia Valencia is scheduled for sentencing at 9:30am on April 19, 2017, before Judge Briones. Emmanuel and 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.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Updated March 23, 2017