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It Took The FBI, Homeland Security, And the DEA To Bring This El Paso Man To Justice

CREDIT: KFOX 14

“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.

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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.


READ: This Is The Real-Life Narco Queen Who Inspired “La Reina Del Sur”

[H/T] VN: How One Family’s Drug Trafficking, Kidnapping, and Murder Charges Turned a Texas Teacher Fugitive

Peña Nieto Has Been Accused Of Taking A $100 Million Bribe From El Chapo Before Taking Office

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Peña Nieto Has Been Accused Of Taking A $100 Million Bribe From El Chapo Before Taking Office

Presidencia de la República Mexicana / Flickr / CBS News / YouTube

In the latest chapter in the trail of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, a witness said the drug kingpin paid a $100 million bribe to former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. The shocking testimony came from Guzman’s former “right-hand man” Alex Cifuentes who claims the payment took place two months before Peña Nieto became the president of Mexico in 2012. According to the New York Times, Cifuentes worked closely with El Chapo from 2007 to 2013.

Alex Cifuentes, who worked closely with El Chapo, told a Brooklyn court that the former Mexican president had originally asked for $250 million.

The allegations of corruption against the Mexican government are nothing new as Peña Nieto left office last year with a string of scandals that left him and his administration with low-approval ratings. While Peña Nieto has yet to deny these claims, a spokesman for Peña Nieto called the bribery story “false and defamatory”.

“You gave a story that Mr. Guzman paid a bribe to Mr. Peña Nieto of $100 million,” Guzman’s lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman asked Cifuentes during cross-examination in Brooklyn federal court, referring to his prior discussions with US authorities. “That’s right,” Cifuentes responded.

Cifuentes previously said Guzman had paid Peña Nieto with a $250 million bribe, however during his testimony, he told the court that Nieto had requested $250 million, but accepted El Chapo’s counter offer of $100 million.

During his testimony Tuesday, Cifuentes said the bribe was made so El Chapo wouldn’t have to worry about getting caught with this drug business.

In court, Lichtman said that in prior meetings in April 2016 and November 2017, Cifuentes told U.S. prosecutors that Peña Nieto had reached out to Guzman in 2012. Cifuentes says Peña Nieto, who was elected that year, told Guzman if he gave him the money, he wouldn’t have to worry about his drug business.

“The message was that Mr. Guzman didn’t have to stay in hiding?” Lichtman asked about the terms of the bribe. “Yes. That very thing is what Joaquin said to me,” Cifuentes said in his response.

It was during Peña Nieto’s term that Guzman was captured by Mexican authorities in 2014 only for him to escape before being caught again in 2016. He was then extradited to the US to face charges of drug trafficking and murder.

Peña Nieto might not be the only Mexican president who was working with the drug cartels.

Lichtman said Cifuentes told prosecutors in 2016 that Guzman’s rival drug gang, the Beltran-Leyva cartel, was paying former Mexican President Felipe Calderon for military protection against him. As of now, Cifuentes doesn’t recall saying that. According to Rolling Stone, Cifuentes did claim though that Guzman was working with the Mexican authorities in some capacity. Guzman would send suitcases filled with cocaine from Argentina to Mexican federal police, who would then sell the drugs themselves.

“I was working with my wife, Angie San Clemente, and working with the Mexican Federal Police with Señor Guzmán’s authorization,” Cifuentes said. “And you claimed the police would then sell the drugs, correct?” Lichtman asked. “You said the police were the customers of the drug dealers?”

“Yes,” Cifuentes responded.

If El Chapo is convicted he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Peña Nieto’s former chief of staff, Francisco Guzman, denied the allegations on Tuesday evening on Twitter.

“The statements of the Colombian drug trafficker in New York are false, defamatory and absurd. The government @EPN was the one who located, arrested and extradited Joaquín Guzmán Loera. Since the beginning of the administration, it was a priority objective of the security cabinet.”

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico’s new president, ran a campaign on the platform of anti-corruption and won in a landslide last year. The trial so far has exposed many scandals and allegations of bribes in Mexico and Columbia that include police commanders and government officials. This probably won’t be the last we hear of this and this could spell serious trouble for Peña Nieto if the claims are true.


READ: El Chapo’s “Trial Of The Century” Started Last Month And Here’s Everything You Should Know About It

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Here’s What Happened When A Cartel Swept Through A Bordertown In Mexico

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Here’s What Happened When A Cartel Swept Through A Bordertown In Mexico

@victorzamorardz / @natgeo / Instagram

Between March and April of 2011, the towns of Allende, Piedras Negras, Nava, Zaragoza, and Nava in the Mexican state of Coahuila, were under constant brutal and devastating attacks by the Zetas cartel. It is believed that in the course of two months, hundreds of people were disappeared or killed. In what is referred to as a forgotten massacre, members of the notorious cartel took control of towns close to the U.S.-Mexico border and killed anyone who questioned or defied their authority.

Six years later, National Geographic went back to the scene and interviewed people connected to the massacre, including Mexican government officials, Drug Enforcement Administration authorities, and the family members of victims. In the report, National Geographic makes mention that the massacre took place, in part, because of the way U.S. drug enforcement officials handled information they were given.

The story by National Geographic highlights how highly sensitive information about the Treviño brothers, both high ranking members of the Zetas cartel, may have sparked the attacks. When the DEA, the organization that initially collected the information, decided to share it with the Mexican government, it was immediately leaked directly to the Treviño brothers.

What followed was a retaliation that cost the lives of many innocent people. The Zetas descended upon the town of Allende, where they sought revenge against the people who gave government officials the information and anyone connected to them. Ranches were seized. Homes were burned. People were rounded up on the farms where they were working and were killed, the bodies burned. Parents lost children. Wives lost husbands. Adults lost parents. The scars of the attack are still visible in Allende, according to National Geographic.

In the report about Allende by National Geographic, the reporter spoke with U.S. officials, Mexican officials, survivors, and the family members of victims to get an account of what happened and when during that attack. They traced back the beginning of the attack and how the handling of the situation by both U.S. officials and local government officials in the border towns led to the widespread devastation of the communities impacted.

“As far as what happened in Mexico and the aftermath of the compromise, the DEA’s official position is: That’s squarely on Omar and Miguel Treviño. They were killing people before that happened, and they killed people after the numbers were passed. DEA did our job to target them and to try to focus and dedicate our resources to put them out of business. We were eventually successful in that regard,” Russ Baer, a DEA spokesman, told National Geographic. “Our hearts go out to those families. They’re victims, unfortunately, of the violence perpetrated by the Treviño brothers and the Zetas. But this is not a story where the DEA has blood on its hands.”

Make sure to read the full story from National Geographic by tapping here.


READ: This Town In Mexico Was Fed Up With Cartels Trying To Take Their Avocado Farms So They Fought Back

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