FORT WORTH (CN) – A South Texas man was sentenced to two life sentences in federal prison Thursday for his role in stalking a U.S. informant and alleged Gulf Cartel attorney who was gunned down at a shopping center in an affluent Dallas-area suburb.
U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means sentenced Jose Luis Cepeda Cortes, 60, of Edinburg, who was convicted in May of interstate stalking and conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire in the death of Juan Jesus Guerrero Chapa.
Guerrero was shot dead in front of his wife as he sat in his car at Southlake Town Center in May 2013. The shooter and getaway driver remain at large. Cepeda was not accused of being the shooter, but of traveling to Southlake "with the intent to kill" Guerrero.
Prosecutors say Cepeda served as an interpreter in the operation to locate Guerrero, helping to get rental cars and perform record searches.
Cepeda has maintained that he was simply interested in learning the trade of his cousin, private investigator Jesus Gerardo Ledezma Cepeda. Ledezma was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison in August for his role.
Ledezma testified at trial that the hit on Guerrero was ordered by Beltran Leyva cartel boss Rodolfo Villarreal Hernandez, known as El Gato, as revenge for the death of Villareal’s father.
"After the defendants located Mr. Chapa, 'El Gato' sent two assassins from Mexico to Southlake to kill him," prosecutors said in a statement Friday. "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."
Prosecutors told jurors that Cepeda used public records and a GPS device attached the Guerrero's car to follow him. They said Cepeda used surveillance cameras that were placed in Guerrero's neighborhood.
Ledezma's son, Jesus Gerardo Ledezma Campano, 33, pleaded guilty in March and was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison. He testified against his father and Cepeda as a government witness.
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