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South Texas man gets 2 life sentences for Southlake execution slaying of cartel lawyer

December 4, 2016  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
South Texas man gets 2 life sentences for Southlake execution slaying of cartel lawyer

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A man in South Texas has been hit with two federal life sentences for obtaining GPS devices and game cameras to help locate a Mexican cartel lawyer in Southlake, who was executed back in 2013 on the orders of an infamous crime boss.

Sixty-year-old José Luis Cepeda Cortés was convicted in May of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire and interstate stalking in connection with the slaying of Juan Jesús Guerrero Chapa.

Guerrero Chapa, a U.S. informant and a prominent lawyer for the Gulf Cartel, was fatally shot in May 2013.

Cepeda Cortés was also found guilty of tampering with evidence.

Jesús Gerardo Ledezma Cepeda, his cousin, was also convicted and is scheduled to be sentenced on December 6th.

José Luis Cepeda Cortés and Jesús Gerardo Ledezma Cepeda, were both convicted in the murder of Guererra-Chapa

José Luis Cepeda Cortés and Jesús Gerardo Ledezma Cepeda were both convicted in the murder of Juan Jesus Guerrero Chapa in Southlake Texas

Ledezma Cepeda’s son, Jesús Gerardo Ledezma Campano pleaded guilty to stalking leading to death and is serving 20-years behind bars. During the trial, he testified against his father and Cepeda Cortés.

Ledezma Cepeda, a former private investigator, and Mexican law enforcement officer, recruited his cousin’s assistance to help him find the victim with highly advanced spy equipment. The father also employed his son in the murder plot.

Cepeda Cortes contended at trial that he was unaware that he was helping to stalk a man whom a drug cartel leader wanted dead, The Dallas Morning News reported.

He provided support for the mission, such as rental cars, airfare, lodging arrangements, and assistance with GPS devices and camouflaged game cameras.

The three-week trial was marked by intensified security and dramatic testimony. Jurors were told about a revenge murder that was allegedly ordered by the victim’s sister in which a woman’s beheading was taped on camera. They also learned specifics of cartel brutality, such as skinning an innocent woman until she bled to death.

Juan_Jesus_Guerrero_Chapa

Juan Jesus Guerrero Chapa was executed in a parking lot of an upscale mall in Southlake, Texas in 2013

Ledezma Cepeda confessed on the witness stand to stalking other men who either went missing or who ended up dead.

The man had become implicated in the Mexican cartel industry years earlier because of his investigative skills, trial testimony revealed. He was longtime friends with a man also known “Chico Malo,” a San Pedro regional leader for the Beltrán Leyva cartel.

When Chico Malo was apprehended by the Mexican marines in 2010, a cartel leader named Rodolfo Villarreal Hernandez, known as “El Gato” hired Ledezma Cepeda to figure out who snitched.

Ledezma Campano indicated it was the first time he helped his father with spying, and the two placed a GPS device on the car of San Pedro’s police chief, who was eventually blamed for the occurrence and was murdered by ‘El Gato.”

Paramedics work on Juan Jesús Guerrero Chapa, a personal lawyer for Gulf cartel boss Osiel Cárdenas, after removing his body from the Range Rover where he was shot by masked assassins in a hit at Southlake Town Square.

Paramedics work on Juan Jesús Guerrero Chapa, a personal lawyer for Gulf cartel boss Osiel Cárdenas, after removing his body from the Range Rover where he was shot by masked assassins in a 2013 hit at Southlake Town Square.

Gato then assigned the former officer to a new job, which involved hunting down the cartel attorney, Guerrero Chapa, who reportedly had Gato’s father murdered years prior. Gato was plagued with thoughts of revenge ever since but had to stand down until permission was granted from his bosses.

Approval came when Guerrero Chapa turned against his cartel to save his boss and himself.

The lawyer helped mastermind a striking betrayal of the Gulf cartel he represented for years and which had control over most of the smuggling routes into Texas. His boss, Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, the leader of the cartel, pleaded guilty and cooperated with U.S. authorities after he was extradited in 2007.

Former Gulf cartel boss Osiel Cardenas Guillen was extradited to the U.S. in 2008

Former Gulf cartel boss Osiel Cardenas Guillen was extradited to the U.S. in 2008 and agreed to cooperate against members of his own cartel

The Cárdenas deal, which was made public in 2010, led to a brutal split between the Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel, which resulted in an eruption of violence along the border as both organizations engaged in an all-out war for control over lucrative drug smuggling routes.

With guidance from his U.S. handlers, who were federal agents with the Department of Homeland Security, Guerrero Chapa moved his family to Grapevine. Soon after, they were forced relocate — deciding on Southlake after an unclaimed death threat.

Ledezma Cepeda and his two relatives followed Guerrero Chapa to Southlake Town Square in May 2013 and watched as he and his wife ate ice cream in an upscale shopping area.

Just before 7 p.m., as families walked nearby, an SUV pulled up behind Guerrero Chapa’s vehicle. A man wearing a hooded sweatshirt and scarf over his face walked up to the passenger side of the Range Rover where Guerrero Chapa sat and opened fire at least nine times.

Detectives got a break in 2014 when Ledezma Cepeda and his son attempted to cross the border and were apprehended.

The identities of the killer and getaway driver, who were known as “Clorox” and “Captain,” are still unknown.

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