Defendant attempted to hire inmates and an undercover officer to kill a witness to a state crime the defendant was charged with
DENVER – Ricardo Estevan Suazo, age 27, of Pueblo, Colorado, was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge Philip A. Brimmer to serve 108 months (9 years) in federal prison, followed by 3 years on supervised release in a murder-for-hire plot. His federal prison time is to be served consecutive to any state prison sentences, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Pueblo Police Department announced. Suazo’s co-defendant, Reina Ashley Gonzales, age 29, of Pueblo, was sentenced by Judge Brimmer on June 16, 2017, to serve 30 months in federal prison, followed by 3 years on supervised release for similar charges.
Both defendants were charged by Criminal Complaint on September 28, 2016. They were then both indicted by a federal grand jury on October 19, 2016. Gonzales ultimately pled guilty to an Information charging her with conspiracy on March 8, 2017. Her prison sentence followed on June 16, 2017. Suazo pled guilty on April 12, 2017. He was sentenced today, July 14, 2017.
Beginning in August 2016 and continuing through September 2016, Suazo and co-defendant Gonzales conspired to hire different individuals, including an undercover law enforcement agent, to murder an individual who was a witness in a state case against Suazo. During the time of the conspiracy, Suazo was a incarcerated in the Pueblo jail. He frequently spoke by phone in code with Gonzales. On at least two different occasions Suazo arranged to bond out individuals from Pueblo jail in exchange for the murder of the witness. When each of those inmates failed to complete the murder, he turned to an individual who was actually an undercover agent. Suazo asked Gonzales to meet with this individual. Gonzales showed the undercover agent the Facebook account for the witness who was to be murdered, and the Facebook account of the witness’s girlfriend. She also drew a map to the witness’s last known residence. Eventually, the plan to hire the undercover agent to commit the murder fell apart. At that point, the two co-defendants tried to hire a fourth inmate to commit the murder. Both were then arrested and, as a result of the investigation, the witness was protected.
“Attacking a witness is attacking the very heart of the justice system,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer. “We won’t tolerate it. Ever. Pueblo has seen the last of Mr. Suazo for a good long time.”
“To save his own skin, Suazo attempted to hire not one, not two, but several people to murder a victim he already attempted to kill during a violent crime. He didn’t care about consequences to himself or his friend; he didn’t care about anyone else who could be hurt; he didn’t care about the victim or their loved ones,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Debora Livingston. “His selfish and remorseless behavior is disgusting. The world is better off with him behind bars where innocent people never have to interact with him.”
This case was investigated by the ATF and Pueblo Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Rebecca Weber and Hetal J. Doshi