Drug Enforcement Administration

El Paso

Kyle Williamson, Special Agent in Charge

March 24, 2017

Contact: Diana Apodaca

Phone Number: (571) 324-6325

Samuel Velasco Gurrola Sentenced To Life In Prison For Murder-For-Hire Plot

Sentence comes one day after his brother, Emmanuel Velasco Gurrola, received a life sentence for his role in the plot.

EL PASO, Texas - Samuel Velasco Gurrola, 41, was sentenced to life in federal prison for his role in a murder-for-hire plot. The sentence was announced by Drug Enforcement (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Will R. Glaspy, United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr., Homeland Security (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Waldemar Rodriguez, and Federal Bureau of (FBI) Special Agent in Charge Douglas E. Lindquist.

On October 17, 2016, a federal jury convicted Samuel 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.  Following his conviction in the murder-for-hire plot, on November 18, 2016, Samuel Gurrola pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt (RICO) statute, namely acts of drug trafficking and money laundering.

Today, Judge David Briones imposed a life-imprisonment sentence for each of the seven murder-related charges, four involving foreign travel which will run consecutively; the other three will run concurrently. Briones also imposed a 35-year concurrent prison term for conspiracy to violate the RICO statute.

In addition to the prison term, Briones ordered that Samuel Gurrola pay over $1 million in restitution to the families of his victims and a money judgment for $12,480,000, to be paid jointly with his brother. Briones also ordered that Samuel Gurrola forfeit two real estate properties he owned in El Paso as well as $85,000 and two vehicles seized by authorities.

“The Velascos perpetrated some of the most diabolical and cruel crimes imaginable,” said 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 Gurrola 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, he initiated a plot, with his brother’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, Escobedo and her friend Roberto Martinez were ambushed and murdered.

Yesterday, Briones sentenced Emmanuel Gurrola 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. Briones also ordered that he forfeit 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 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.

“The Velascos fall 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. “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,”

“These life sentences send 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 Special Agent in Charge Douglas E. Lindquist, El Paso Division. “Two murderers are behind bars. Justice has been served for the victims, their families, and the greater border community.”

Emmanuel and Samuel’s sister, 44-year-old Dalia Valencia, pleaded guilty to the RICO conspiracy charge prior to jury selection in the above-mentioned trial. Valencia is scheduled for sentencing on April 19, 2017, before Judge Briones. The Gurrola’s other sister, 43-year-old Monica Velasco, 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 (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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