The suspect in a murder plot that caused the slayings of four people, including the man’s wife in Juarez, Mexico showed no remorse as he was hit with seven life sentences.
Samuel Velasco Gurrola, 41, was sentenced on Friday for heading a group linked to drug trafficking, that orchestrated the murder plot of his wife, Ruth Sagredo, her father, and sister to stop his wife from testifying against him in a trial charging him with the sexual assault of a minor in El Paso.
Velasco was given the opportunity to address the court before he was given his sentence but was stopped by his attorney as he started to raise his voice.
“I am here knowing what I am facing,” Velasco stated. “I’d like to thank God and thank my new wife. I feel the pain of the Martinez and Sagredo families.”
He then raised his voice and added, “But your honor, you saw in the trial .…”
Velasco’s attorney, Sean C. Chapman, then intervened and asked Senior U.S. District Judge David Briones for a second to privately converse with his client.
Soon after, Velasco said he had nothing more to say.
Velasco and his siblings, Emmanuel “Richie” Velasco Gurrola and Dalia Valencia, were also accused of heading the elaborate scheme, the El Paso Times reported.
The U.S. Marshals Service still are looking for Samuel Velasco’s sister, Monica Velasco, an elementary school teacher who faces charges in connection with the slayings.
“We are searching for Monica Velasco… we will find and prosecute her,” Gibbs stated. “If she is in Mexico, she will be extradited.”
The plot involved gunmen murdering Ruth Sagredo’s father, Francisco M. Sagredo Villareal, back in October 2008. The killing was an attempt to get Ruth Sagredo to go to Mexico for her father’s funeral to have her killed.
Although Ruth Sagredo attended the funeral, the gunmen were unable to carry out the murder.
The suspects then allegedly employed shooters to murder Ruth Sagredo’s sister, Cinthia Sagredo Escobedo, in November 2008, in another plot to kill her.
Ruth Sagredo was murdered a few days later by gunmen as they shot at the car she was riding in during her sister’s funeral. Roberto Martinez, who was Ruth Sagredo’s friend, was also killed in the incident.
“The Velascos perpetrated the most diabolical and cruel crimes,” Richard L. Durbin Jr., the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, announced in a statement. “To avoid responsibility for sexually assaulting a child, Samuel enlisted his brother and his criminal organization to kill his wife to prevent her from testifying. By the time he was done, his wife, her father, her sister, and a friend had been slaughtered. The life sentence shows much more mercy than he ever did.”
Several people in the Sagredo and Martinez families read victim impact statements before the sentencing of Samuel Velasco, who stared at the floor and seemed unaffected by the emotional messages.
“A guilty person who has not taken responsibility for what he did,” Francisco Sagredo’s son, Carlos Sagredo, said as he stared at the suspect. “I waited nine years. I am done feeling scared. My family did nothing wrong. Roberto Martinez was honorable. May God forgive you because you will never find forgiveness from me.”
Francisco Sagredo’s wife, Manuela Escobedo, thanked the prosecutors and investigators for their efforts to bring justice to her family.
“I want to say thank you to the people who helped and brought us to this point and who clean society of criminals like him,” Escobedo stated. “They destroyed my family. There is no going back, but justice was served here. God will not forgive you because I cannot.”
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office and law enforcement partners are happy to bring justice to the families,” prosecutor John Michael Gibson said after the sentencing.
Samuel Velasco received the sentences on each of the three counts of conspiring to murder in a foreign country and four counts of conspiring to cause travel in foreign commerce in committing murder for hire.
He was found guilty in October on all seven counts.
The man was also required to pay over $1.2 million in restitution to the victims’ relatives. Samuel Velasco must forfeit $185,000 seized in a car during an investigation into the murders and several properties he owns in Las Vegas and El Paso County.
He also was sentenced to 35 years on one count of conspiring to conduct the affairs of a business through racketeering activity in association with a drug-trafficking case.
On Thursday, his brother, Emmanuel Velasco Gurrola was sentenced to life behind bars on each of three counts of conspiring to murder in a foreign country and one count of conspiring to violate the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization statute.
“The sentence handed down is the result of outstanding efforts by the FBI and partner agencies, DEA and HSI,” El Paso Special Agent in Charge Douglas E. Lindquist said. “Two murderers are behind bars. Justice has been served for the victims, their families, and the greater community.”
Valencia is set to be sentenced on April 19th after pleading guilty to one count of conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute.
The case was investigated by the FBI, U.S. DEA, and Homeland Security Investigations.