Private Eye Says Cartel Forced Him to Do It

     FORT WORTH (CN) – A Mexican private investigator on trial for conspiring to murder an alleged Gulf Cartel attorney testified Friday that he was forced to track several people out of fear for his life and that he hid the purpose of his work from his co-defendant cousin.
     In his second day on the stand, Jesus Gerardo Ledezma Cepeda, 59, testified that his life was “hijacked” by Beltran Leyva Cartel boss Rodolfo Villarreal “El Gato” Hernandez, who ordered the hit on lawyer and U.S. informant Juan Jesus Guerrero Chapa.
     Guerrero was shot dead in May 2013 in broad daylight as he sat in his car at the Southlake Town Center mall in the affluent Dallas suburb of Southlake.
     A white vehicle pulled up behind Guerrero, a shooter got out and fired through Guerrero’s window while ignoring Guerrero’s wife, who was not hurt. The shooter and getaway driver remain at large.
     Neither Ledezma nor co-defendant Jose Luis Cepeda Cortes, 60, is accused of being the gunman. They are charged with interstate stalking and conspiracy for murder-for-hire: traveling from Mexico to Southlake “with the intent to kill” Chapa.
     Ledezma’s son, Jesus Gerardo Ledezma Campano, 32, testified last week that El Gato spent $1 million tracking Guerrero and threw a beer bash and gave away a BMW and a hunting trip to celebrate the killing.
     Through an interpreter, Ledezma Cepeda testified that he misled his cousin into helping him by saying Guerrero was a wanted man in Mexico, that he stole money from a bank. He said El Gato was “obsessed” with getting revenge on Guerrero for the death of his father.
     Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Burgess said he didn’t believe the testimony, telling Ledezma Cepeda on cross-examination that he has “every reason to lie” on the stand.
     “You are used to lying to get what you want as a private investigator, true?” he asked.
     When asked about other people that El Gato had him follow, who disappeared, Ledezma repeated that he was El Gato’s “tool,” and that he was afraid he would be killed if he did not follow orders.
     Ledezma Cepeda testified on Thursday that his cousin merely wanted to learn about private investigations, and that he was helpful because he spoke English and could act as an interpreter.
     Guerrero’s widow testified last week that her husband lived in fear for two years after being warned twice that rivals had found him in Texas and were going to kill him.
     The widow, Julia Tijerina de la Garza, said her family was living in nearby Grapevine when her husband received the first phone call, in 2011. They immediately abandoned their home, and lived with Guerrero’s sister in Grapevine until they moved to Southlake.

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