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

MAR 23 (EL PASO, Texas) – Emmanuel Velasco Gurrola, 30, was sentenced to life in federal prison for his role in a murder-for-hire plot.  The sentencing was announced by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Will R. Glaspy, United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr., Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Waldemar Rodriguez, 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 also 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 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 Gurrola’s brother, Samuel Velasco Gurrola, 41, 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 Gurrola was married to Ruth Sagredo Escobedo. At the time, Samuel Gurrola 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 Gurrola initiated a plot, with Emmanuel Gurrola’s help, to kill Sagredo while in Mexico in order to prevent her from testifying in that case.
Testimony revealed that with Emmanuel Gurrola’s help, Samuel Gurrola 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 Gurrola’s father-in-law, was murdered in his house in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. On November 20, 2008, Francisco Villareal’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.

“Mr. Velasco Gurrola falls into the category of the ‘worst of the worst’ criminals,” said Will R. Glaspy, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s El Paso Division. “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 Samuel Gurrola to justice and ensuring that never again will he be able to commit an act of violence in the Borderland,”

“This life sentence sends a clear message to transnational criminal organizations,” said Waldemar Rodriguez, special agent in charge of HSI El Paso. “HSI and its law enforcement partners are committed to ensuring the safety and security of our border community,”

“The sentence handed down today is the result of outstanding efforts by the FBI and our partner agencies, DEA and HIS,” stated Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge Douglas E. Lindquist, El Paso Division. “A murderer is behind bars. Justice has been served for the victims, their families, and the greater border community,”

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

Samuel Gurrola is scheduled for sentencing March 24. Valencia is scheduled for sentencing on April 19. Both sentences will be handed down by Judge Briones. Emmanuel and Samuel Gurrola’s other sister, Monica Velasco, 43, remains a fugitive in this case. 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 DEA, HSI, and the FBI 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.

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