Truth is Stranger than Fiction when it comes to the Drug War. When you read stories like this you realize how DEEP the Drug Trade has it’s tentacles into Society. How many seemingly legitimate people in your community are involved in the drug trade in some respect? In this case, an Elementary school teacher. -SF
After Monica Velasco went on the run from the law, parents of her students at Thomas Manor Elementary School in El Paso, Texas told investigators that the unassuming 42-year-old brunette was one of best teachers their children ever had.
She used to return home in the evenings to a spacious $400,000 house on the west side of El Paso. But on January 25, officials say she escaped out the back door of a dingy, one-story redbrick safe house minutes ahead of the US Marshals Service’s Lone Star Fugitive Task Force.
Authorities are seeking Velasco on charges that she allegedly managed the finances and transferred property for her family’s violent drug trafficking operation, which prosecutors say smuggled “huge quantities” of marijuana into the US, kidnapped victims for ransom, including children, and ripped off rival traffickers to sell their stolen drugs, among other offenses.
“She was living a double life,” Deputy US Marshal Scott Williams told VICE News. “I’ve talked to people who had kids in her class who said, ‘She was my favorite teacher, she was so nice.'”
Monica’s brother is 29-year-old alleged crime boss Emmanuel “Richie” Velasco Gurrola, whom prosecutors say headed his family’s lucrative operations in narcotics, car theft, money laundering, extortion, and kidnapping, with a reach that stretched from Ciudad Juárez in Mexico to the Carolinas.
Headquartered in El Paso, the group allegedly had significant ventures in Las Vegas and New Mexico, as well as a drug distribution network in Dallas.
Details of the group’s operations were laid out in a racketeering indictment against Emmanuel, Monica, their brother Samuel Velasco Gurrola — a 40-year-old whom prosecutors have identified as the “co-leader” of the family business — their sister Dalia Valencia, and other associates that was filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Texas on October 28. The siblings have pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The document was unsealed last month, a few months after Monica quit her job at Thomas Manor Elementary and quietly disappeared.
The Velasco Criminal Enterprise
Prosecutors refer to the gang as the “Velasco Criminal Enterprise,” or VCE, and allege that it trafficked hundreds of kilograms of marijuana, as well as other drugs like cocaine, into the United States.
Monica and Dalia, 43, were “primarily in charge of handling and storing VCE’s money,” according to the indictment. Members of VCE would meet with Monica to deliver or pick up drug proceeds, and she rented vehicles for VCE members to use.
In 2014, the schoolteacher once received a Cadillac Escalade SUV as payment for a kilogram of cocaine and passed the car on to Emmanuel, the document says.
At the time, Monica appeared to be living a quiet life, with no husband, boyfriend, or children of her own. Deputy Marshal Williams said that she forged fond attachments to her students.
“It seems like she was real involved in the school,” he remarked of her 14-year tenure. “She loved her kids.”
But she carried multiple cellphones, including disposable “burner” phones, to communicate with her family.
“She and her mom had specific phones to talk to each other. She had other phones just to talk to her brothers,” Williams said. “Normal people don’t do that sort thing.”
Prosecutors charge that the group routinely engaged in violence, including threats against its own members to keep them in line. Members of a kidnapping team operating in Juárez killed two of their own in an April 2009 incident, the indictment says, though it didn’t explain why.
From 2009 to 2013, prosecutors allege that Emmanuel, Samuel, and Dalia planned and executed a wave of “extortion and kidnapping” in the US and Mexico, targeting “local business owners, medical professionals, students, and children.”
VCE’s kidnapping operation was allegedly organized into teams, with different groups to identify victims, provide intelligence on their daily schedule, acquire weapons, stage the abduction, and negotiate a ransom. Dalia would “provide names of possible victims to kidnap,” the indictment says, while Emmanuel and Samuel would personally call the victim’s family to negotiate.
Another of the group’s alleged activities was to “rip off or steal drug loads from sources of supply or competing drug trafficking organizations and then sell those stolen drugs for profit.”
Read the Remainder at Vice News