Northeast Tarrant

Execution of cartel attorney in Southlake draws another life sentence

Jose Luis Cepeda-Cortes, left, and his cousin, Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Cepeda, each have received two life sentences for their roles in the slaying.
Jose Luis Cepeda-Cortes, left, and his cousin, Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Cepeda, each have received two life sentences for their roles in the slaying. Tarrant County Jail

The last of three Mexican nationals who tracked down a cartel lawyer turned government informant, leading to the attorney’s 2013 execution at a Southlake shopping center, was given two life sentences in prison Tuesday by a federal judge.

Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Cepeda — also known as Chuy and Juan Ramos — had been convicted by a federal jury in May 2016 on single counts of interstate stalking and conspiracy to commit murder for hire.

The sentences, handed down Tuesday morning by U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means, will run concurrently.

Ledezma-Cepeda’s cousin, Jose Luis Cepeda-Cortez, was sentenced last week by Means to two life sentences on the same two counts. In addition, Cepeda-Cortez received a 20-year sentence on a count of tampering wtih documents or proceedings.

Ledezma-Cepeda’s son, 33-year-old Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Campano, pleaded guilty in March to one count of interstate stalking. He was sentenced in August to 20 years in prison.

Officials say that between March 2011 and May 2013, the three men traveled from Mexico and through various states, tracking Juan Jesus Guerrero Chapa, the personal lawyer for the leader of the Gulf cartel and a government informant.

Records show the men were acting on orders from Rodolfo Villarreal Hernandez, known as “El Gato,” who wanted Chapa killed as revenge for his father’s murder.

“These three men methodically hunted down their intended victim through several states, in and out of Mexico, and over several months for the sole purpose of facilitating his execution,” U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas stated in a news release issued Tuesday about the latest sentence.

Testimony in the trials indicated it was two assassins sent from Mexico by El Gato — identified only as “Clorox” and “Captain” — who actually ambushed and killed Chapa as the attorney and his wife sat in their Range Rover at Southlake Town Square on the evening of May 22, 2013.

One of the assassins pulled up behind the couple’s Range Rover in a Toyota Sequoia. The second assassin then got out of the Sequoia, walked up to the Range Rover and fired several times with a 9mm pistol through the window at Chapa. The lawyer died at the scene; his wife was not injured.

The assassins have never been caught.

Federal officials said all three defendants are Mexican citizens and that Cepeda-Cortez was in the U.S. legally.

Deanna Boyd: 817-390-7655, @deannaboyd

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