Northeast Tarrant

Witness in Southlake cartel murder sentenced to 20 years in prison

Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Campano, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Thursday.
Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Campano, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Thursday. Court documents

A Mexican man who pleaded guilty earlier this year to his role in the murder of a Southlake cartel lawyer was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison Thursday.

Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Campano, 32, pleaded guilty in March to one count of interstate stalking and then testified against his father and his father’s cousin during a trial in April.

Ledezma-Campano told jurors that he and his father, Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Cepeda, and his father’s cousin, Jose Luis Cepeda-Cortes, tracked down and stalked Juan Jesus Guerrero Chapa, who was fatally shot by two hit men at Southlake Town Square on May 22, 2013.

Guerrero, 43, who had been living in a gated Southlake neighborhood, was the personal lawyer for the former leader of the Gulf cartel.

The hit men, known as “Captain” and “Clorox,” have not been arrested and are believed to be in Mexico.

Ledezma-Cepeda, 60, and Cepeda-Cortes, 60, were convicted in May of conspiracy to commit murder for hire and interstate stalking. Cepeda-Cortes was also convicted of tampering with government documents.

Both men are scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 22. They face life in prison.

During their trial, Ledezma-Campano testified for nearly four hours, recalling how his father was hired by a vengeful cartel boss known as “El Gato” to find Guerrero.

El Gato, whose real name is Rodolfo Villarreal Herandez, believed Guerrero was responsible for the death of his father, according to witnesses at the trial.

Ledezma-Campano testified that he first heard about the search for Guerrero in 2012 after he delivered diabetes medicine to his father in South Florida. He said he believed his father, a private investigator, was working a job there.

Ledezma-Campano arrived to find his father, Cepeda-Cortes, Cepeda-Cortes’ son and a man from Mexico named Pelón working out of a virtually empty two-story house near West Palm Beach.

Ledezma-Cepeda told his son they were looking for a lawyer who owed El Gato money. Ledezma-Campano said he asked if El Gato planned to kill the lawyer.

“He said, ‘No, he owes a lot of money,’ ” Ledezma-Campano said.

Ledezma-Campano agreed to help.

‘They killed him!’

The men soon moved their base of operations to Grapevine, where Cepeda-Cortes found out the address of Guerrero’s sister-in-law, Ledezma-Campano said.

A GPS tracker on her car led them to Guerrero’s gated neighborhood.

As they followed Guerrero, the men bought two different Jeep vehicles and rented several cars, Ledezma-Campano said. They slapped magnet decals for a fake electric company on some of the vehicles and even followed Guerrero to a casino in Oklahoma.

On the day of Guerrero’s death, Ledezma-Campano said, he was anxious and sweating, texting El Gato through a Blackberry Messenger every three minutes.

They tracked Guerrero to his son’s school and later to Town Square, watching him from a rented Chevy Cruise.

As they watched Guerrero at Town Square, Ledezma-Cepeda was nervous “more than ever,” Ledezma-Campano said.

He sent Ledezma-Campano for coffee. Waiting in line, he heard a commotion and returned to the rental car.

“They killed him! They killed him!” Ledezma-Cepeda told him.

The two men rushed to a 7-11 gas station and then dropped off the rental car. They went to their apartment and packed up their belongings. The next day, they went south.

“I was involved in this crime … the murder of a person,” Ledezma-Campano testified in April.

He said he decided to plead guilty and testify “because it is the right thing to do ... according to my morals and values that my mom taught me.”

This article includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.