“They conspired to kill Ruth Sagredo because, if she was killed, she would not be able to testify in that case,” Special Agent Thomas Salloway said.
Back in January of 2005, Samuel Velasco Gurrola of El Paso, Texas, was indicted by a grand jury, alleging he had sexually assaulted a child. If convicted, Samuel faced up to 99 years in prison. The victim had spoken of the incident with Samuel’s wife, Ruth Sagredo Escobedo, and so Ruth’s testimony looked as if it could put him away. Ruth had no sympathy for Samuel, as she had already separated from her husband. Taking justice into his own hands, Samuel hired two relatives, supposed crime boss Emmanuel Velasco Gurrola and Dalia Valencia, to help him in a murder-for-hire plot against his wife to keep her silent.
What happened next was straight out of a movie.
CREDIT: NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN / MIRAMAX
In October 2008, right before the trial was to begin, Samuel Velasco Gurrola and his murderous relatives decided to kill Ruth’s father Francisco Maria Sagredo, who lived in Juárez, Chihuahua. The plan was to lure Ruth to Mexico to attend her father’s funeral, where they could then kill Ruth, as well. At the time, Juárez was steeped in violence, and the trio hoped they could make it look like an unrelated cartel hit. When Ruth did not attend her father’s funeral, the trio turned their focus to Ruth’s sister, Cinthia Judith Sagredo Escobedo, who also happened to live in Juárez. They murdered Cinthia in front of the Posada San Nicolás hotel, where she worked. This plan worked, and two days later Ruth was killed while riding in her sister’s funeral procession. According to witnesses, two trucks pulled along side and blasted several rounds from AK-47s into Ruth’s 2004 Kia Amanti. Ruth died in the attack, along with her friend Roberto Martínez, the man who had warned her not to attend her father’s funeral.
With no witnesses left in the sexual assault trial, Samuel Velasco Gurrola was a free man. Almost.
CREDIT: KFOX 14
Now, 41-year-old Samuel Velasco Gurrola is facing a mandatory life sentence thanks to his involvement in the murders. He’s been formally convicted of conspiracy to cause foreign travel for murder for hire and conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country. His relatives involved in the case were also convicted of similar conspiracy counts and are facing life sentences, as well. Though his cousins tried to make it look like a cartel hit, many people were able to see through their plan. Within a few weeks, Stephanie Sanchez at El Paso Times had already published a piece questioning the cartel connection, highlighting that Ruth’s lawyer, Edward Hernandez, outright denied it. Stephanie even touched on Ruth’s domestic troubles with her husband, Samuel Velasco Gurrola, a more likely suspect. Samuel’s eventual arrest came from the collaborative efforts of the D.E.A, Homeland Security, and the F.B.I.
Though she didn’t live to see justice served, Ruth would more than likely feel vindicated by the recent conviction. “She was very adamant about getting this person (Velasco) prosecuted and have him pay for what he did,” Eduardo Avalos Sr, Ruth’s first husband, told CBS.