Texas elementary school teacher wanted for ties to violent criminal gang

Monica Velasco (Photo: U.S. Marshals Service)

Monica Velasco (Photo: U.S. Marshals Service)  ((U.S. Marshals Services))

A former Texas school teacher is on the run from federal authorities after being slapped with charges in connection to a purported drug trafficking, auto theft and money laundering ring run by her family.

A federal grand jury in October Monica Velasco, a 42-year old former elementary school teacher from El Paso, on a slew of charges, including drug trafficking, money laundering, racketeering and kidnapping in a foreign country.

After her sister and two brothers got busted in an alleged murder-for-hire plot involving a man and his two daughters across the border in Ciudad Juárez, Velasco quit her job of 14 years at Thomas Manor Elementary School and went on the lam.

The Lone Star Fugitive Task Force almost captured her at her mother’s home earlier this month, but Velasco fled before authorities arrived. Instead, law enforcement arrested her mother, 63-year old Josefina Gurrola, and charged her with concealing a person from arrest.

Authorities say that they believe that Velasco is still in the El Paso area and has not fled over the border to Mexico where she has family.

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“Everyone we’ve spoken to has said she’s deathly afraid of Mexico,” Scott Williams, deputy for the U.S. Marshals Service in El Paso, told the San Antonio Express-News.

Velasco was allegedly in charge of storing and handling the money for her family’s criminal network, known as the Velasco Criminal Enterprise. She is purported to have collected and handed out money to members of the drug gang as well as transferred “ownership of property” for the group and rented their vehicles.

In 2014, she is believed to have transferred a Cadillac Escalade SUV to her brother, Emmanuel Velasco Gurrola, in exchange for a kilo of cocaine. Her brother is the alleged head of the criminal network.

While the former teacher may have only been involved in transferring money, the Velasco Criminal Enterprise allegedly also engages in auto theft, kidnapping, robbery and money laundering.

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