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Jury finds two members of hit team guilty in the 2013 murder of cartel attorney in Southlake, Texas

May 13, 2016  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Jury finds two members of hit team guilty in the 2013 murder of cartel attorney in Southlake, Texas

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A Jury in Fort Worth Federal Court has returned a guilty verdict in the case of two men, who were hired to track down a Mexican attorney in Southland, Texas, who was the defacto boss of the Gulf drug cartel on Friday, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Cepeda and Jose Luis Cepeda-Cortes were convicted for their role in the murder of Juan Jesus Guerrero Chapa, the Gulf cartel attorney and a U.S. informant, who was gunned down by a hitman in the parking lot of the Southlake Town Square mall back in May 2013.

Additionally, the jury also found Cepeda Cortes guilty of destroying evidence.

During the trial, Jesus Gerardo Ledezma Campano, Ledezma Cepeda’s son, who already pleaded guilty to stalking leading up to the murder, took the stand against his father and cousin.

He is scheduled to be sentenced in August.

Ledezma Cepeda, a former Mexican police officer, and private investigator recruited his cousin, a retired phone company worker from South Texas, and enlisted his son to help him locate Guerrero Chapa, according to testimony.

Both men could receive life in prison as a result of the guilty verdicts when they are sentenced in September.

Prosecutors alleged during trial, that the suspects were part of a cartel hit team, who used a GPS device and video cameras to track Guerrero-Chapa in the months leading up to the murder of the reputed cartel leader.

The men were allegedly hired to locate the whereabouts of the attorney by a leading member of the Beltran Leyva Organization, a shadowy figure named Rodolfo Villarreal Hernandez, also known as ‘El Gato’ who at one time worked as a Mexican federal agent.

Authorities say the actual shooters who committed the hit are still at large, according to prosecutors.

Between the heightened security and evidence presented during the spectacular three-week trial, caused one juror to step down due to stress and anxiety, the Dallas Morning News reported.

The jury listened to disturbing details of cartel brutality including videotaping a woman’s beheading; allegedly a relative of Villarreal Hernandez, reportedly on the orders of Guerrero-Chapa’s sister as revenge for her brother’s execution and even sent the footage to the cartel capo.

According to testimony, Ledezma Cepeda was described as the ringleader in the murder-for-hire conspiracy.

His involvement with the cartels began years earlier in Mexico because of his investigative skills as a former cop and due to his longtime friendship with a regional cartel boss named ‘Chico Malo,’ a leader of the Beltran Leyva Organization in San Pedro, a wealthy neighborhood, located just outside Monterrey, Mexico.

According to The Dallas Morning News, after Chico Malo’s arrest in 2010 by Mexican Marines – reportedly the only trusted law enforcement agency in Mexico, “El Gato,” first hired Ledezma Cepeda to track down an informant.

His son, who was also a former Mexican police officer, said that was the first time he helped his father with spying, by placing a GPS tracker on the vehicle of San Pedro’s police chief, who was ultimately murdered by “El Gato.”

Ledezma-Campano testified that his father had already done some unsavory work for the cartel capo, which included kidnapping victims and tracking down men wanted to locate.

However, the one person Villarreal Hernandez was obsessed with killing was Gurrero Chapa, who years earlier had reportedly murdered his father but could not because he had to obtain permission from the cartel leadership.

He would get his chance at revenge after the attorney and his old boss Osiel Cardenas Guillen, the brutal leader of the Gulf Cartel after both men agreed to cooperate with U.S. authorities.

U.S officials wanted Cardenas for threatening U.S. agents at gunpoint in Mexico and was responsible for the drug trafficking and violence associated with it that had engulfed northeastern Mexico and the Texas border.

Cardenas was extradited to the U.S. in 2007, and he agreed to cooperate in return for a lighter sentence.

The feds tasked Guerrero Chapa with collecting $50 million from the Gulf cartel and its former paramilitary arm, Los Zetas, to be turned over to the U.S. as part of the plea agreement.

Furthermore, Cardenas began feeding federal agents vital intelligence on cartel’s operations, senior figures as well as their movements and overall strategies.

In return for his cooperation, Cardenas received a 25-year prison sentence in 2010.

News of the cartel leader’s betrayal became public; it led to a violent split between the Los Zetas and Gulf cartels, which prompted an explosion of unspeakable acts of violence on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Guerrero Chapa eventually relocated in a $2 million dollar Southlake mansion with the help of the DEA, which is where Ledezma Cepeda and his family members found him.

The three suspects tracked down the attorney by using a GPS tracking device on his sister’s vehicle and after months of digging through public records.

Furthermore, the father and son placed game cameras often used to hunt deer – in front of the family’s mansion and around their community to monitor his movements.

Ultimately Guerrero Chapa was followed to Southlake Town Square on May 22, 2013, by the surveillance team, who carefully watched him and his wife eating ice cream while they shopped at the upscale shopping area.

According to testimony, the father was in constant contact with EL Gato and made he sure he didn’t lose the target.

A white SUV pulled up behind Guerrero Chapa’s Range Rover shortly after 7 p.m. A man in a hooded sweatshirt and scarf over his face walked to the passenger side where Guerrero Chapa sat and opened fire fatally hitting the attorney.

The lawyers for Ledezma Cepeda argued during the trial that their client was under constant threat because Gato had a hold on him through the fear of violence against his family in Monterrey.

Law enforcement officials caught a big break in September 2014 when Ledezma Cepeda and his son were arrested trying to cross the border.

The suspected shooter along with the getaway driver are still at large and have not been identified.

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