Defendant Sentenced to Two Life Sentences for Role in May 2013 Murder of Southlake, Texas, Man
FORT WORTH, Texas —Jose Luis Cepeda Cortes, 60, one of the Mexican citizens convicted for his role in the May 2013 murder of Juan Jesus Guerrero Chapa in Southlake, Texas, was sentenced yesterday, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.
Cepeda Cortes was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means to two life sentences plus 240 months to run concurrent. Cepeda Cortes was convicted at trial in May 2016 on one count of interstate stalking, one count of conspiracy to commit murder for hire and one count of tampering with documents or proceedings.
Co-defendant Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Cepeda, a/k/a “Chuy” and “Juan Ramos,” 60, also a Mexican citizen, was also convicted at trial in May 2016 on one count of interstate stalking and one count of conspiracy to commit murder for hire. Each offense carries a maximum statutory penalty of life in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for December 6, 2016.
Ledezma-Cepeda’s son, Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Campano, 33, was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means to 20 years in federal prison on August 18, 2016. Ledezma-Campano pleaded guilty in March 2016 to one count of interstate stalking and testified for the government at trial.
On May 22, 2013, at approximately 6:47 p.m., Juan Jesus Guerrero Chapa was ambushed and shot multiple times with a 9mm pistol while seated in his Range Rover that was parked at Southlake Town Square. A Toyota Sequoia pulled up behind the Range Rover, a gunman got out of that vehicle, walked up to the Range Rover, and fired several times through the window at Mr. Chapa, who died at the scene. Nearby, Mr. Chapa’s wife was not harmed.
According to evidence presented at trial and documents filed in the case, from approximately March 1, 2011, until May 22, 2013, the three defendants traveled in interstate and foreign commerce from Mexico to Southlake, and elsewhere, with the intent to kill, injure, harass and intimidate Mr. Chapa, and as a result of that travel, Mr. Chapa was killed. In addition, from approximately May 23, 2013, until September 5, 2014, Cepeda-Cortes took steps to destroy evidence on his computer related to the investigation.
The defendants were acting on orders from a man in Mexico, Rodolfo Villarreal Hernandez, known as “El Gato,” or “the Cat,” who wanted Mr. Chapa killed as revenge for his father’s murder. Over the course of the conspiracy, Ledezma-Campano and Ledezma-Cortes received money from Ledezma-Cepeda to pay for their expenses. Ledezma-Cepeda was paid by “El Gato.”
Ledezma-Cepeda asked his son, Ledezma-Campano, to assist in the search. Ledezma-Campano used his skill with electronic devices to assist in the search, and he created email accounts for Ledezma-Cepeda and “El Gato” to communicate with each other.
The defendants exchanged information via email to locate Mr. Chapa – exchanging personal information about Mr. Chapa and his family as well as information regarding vehicles associated with them and photographs of the Chapa residence in Southlake.
The defendants used various means to locate and track Mr. Chapa and members of his family. Cepeda-Cortes purchased surveillance cameras that were placed in various locations in Mr. Chapa’s neighborhood. In addition, while in the area, the defendants purchased and rented several vehicles that allowed them to frequently change vehicles and use non-descript rental vehicles to avoid detection by Mr. Chapa and his family. They placed automobile tracking devices not only on their own vehicles, but on vehicles owned and operated by Mr. Chapa and his relatives, including the Range Rover Mr. Chapa was in when he was murdered.
After the defendants located Mr. Chapa, “El Gato” sent two assassins from Mexico to Southlake to kill him. Ledezma-Campano met the two, whom he identified as “Clorox” and “Captain,” and concluded they were sent to kill Mr. Chapa. One of the men was, in fact, the gunman who killed the victim on May 22, 2013, and the other drove the Toyota Sequoia.
On the day of the murder, Ledezma-Campano and Ledezma-Cepeda followed the victim around Southlake, and that afternoon, while the victim’s Range Rover was parked in a Walmart parking lot, Ledezma-Campano and Ledezma-Cepeda switched the tracking device on the Range Rover.
At approximately 6:00 p.m. on May 22, 2013, Mr. Chapa and his wife drove to Southlake Town Square. Ledezma-Campano and Ledezma-Cepeda, who had been parked near Chapa’s home, followed them. Mr. Chapa parked in his regular parking spot near a yogurt store, and Ledezma-Campano and Ledezma-Cepeda parked directly across from them and used binoculars to watch them.
As they waited, Ledezma-Cepeda was in regular contact, via Blackberry Messenger, with “El Gato.” Ledezma-Campano saw “Clorox” and “Captain” drive by in a Toyota Sequoia. Ledezma-Campano went into a coffee shop in Town Square and while inside he heard a commotion outside. He returned to Ledezma-Cepeda who told him “they shot him”
Ledezma-Campano and Ledezma-Cepeda waited several minutes as law enforcement responded before leaving the scene. “El Gato” told both of them to stop using the tracking device they carried in their vehicle. The next morning, they returned the rental car and drove directly into Mexico, along the way destroying the phones they had used.
The investigation was led by the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration, with assistance from the Southlake Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, US. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Texas Department of Public Safety, Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office, Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office, Fort Worth Police Department and Grapevine Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joshua Burgess and Aisha Saleem are prosecuting the case.
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