El Paso man gets life in prison for role in Juarez killings

EL PASO, Texas (AP) - Prosecutors say a man has been sentenced to life in prison for his role in the 2008 slaying of three relatives in Mexico.

Emmanuel Velasco Gurrola was sentenced Thursday in El Paso. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate anti-racketeering laws and to three counts of conspiracy to kill in a foreign country.

His brother, Samuel Velasco Gurrola of El Paso, was convicted in October of conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country and conspiracy to cause foreign travel for murder for hire.

Investigators say Samuel Velasco faced child molestation charges and didn't want his wife, Ruth Sagredo Escobedo, to testify. The brothers arranged the slaying of her father and her sister, Cinthia Sagredo Escobedo, in Ciudad Juarez.

The killings were part of a scheme to lure Ruth Sagredo to Juarez, where she was gunned down on her way to her sister's funeral.

Court records state Emmanuel 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 sentence, the judge ordered Emmanuel Velasco Gurrola to pay more than $1 million in restitution to the families of his victims. He will also have to 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.

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