The following is a press release from the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District Texas.
FORT WORTH, Texas — After a trial lasting more than two-weeks, a federal jury has convicted two Mexican citizens on federal charges related to the murder of Southlake, Texas, resident, Juan Jesus Guerrero Chapa, at Southlake Town Square on May 22, 2013, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.
Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Cepeda, a/k/a “Chuy” and “Juan Ramos,” 59, and his cousin, Jose Luis Cepeda-Cortes, 60, were each convicted 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. Cepeda-Cortes was also convicted on one count of tampering with documents or proceedings, which carries a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
Another defendant charged in the superseding indictment, Ledezma-Cepeda’s son, Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Campano, 32, pleaded guilty prior to trial to one count of interstate stalking. He is also a Mexican citizen and testified for the government at trial.
All three defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on September 22, 2016, by U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means, who is presiding over the case.
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.
The government presented evidence during trial that from approximately March 1, 2011, until May 22, 2015, 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 that as a result of that travel, Mr. Chapa was killed. In addition, the government presented evidence that Ledezma-Cepeda, Cepeda-Cortes and others conspired to travel from Mexico and elsewhere to Southlake and elsewhere, with the intent to murder Mr. Chapa. Further, the government presented evidence that from approximately May 23, 2013, until September 5, 2014, Cepeda-Cortes took steps to destroy evidence related to the investigation that was on his computer.
The defendants, according to evidence presented at trial, 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.
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 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.
The government presented further evidence that after the defendants located Mr. Chapa, “El Gato” sent two assassins from Mexico to Southlake to kill Mr. Chapa. One of them was the gunman who killed the victim on May 22, 2013, and the other drove the Toyota Sequoia.
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, U.S. 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.