Rodolfo Villareal Hernandez, a Beltran Leyva cartel “plaza boss” known as El Gato, received the video from the lawyer’s sister, said Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Campano, one of the men accused of stalking the lawyer before he was killed at Southlake Town Square.
Ledezma-Campano, who pleaded guilty to interstate stalking earlier this year, testified for a total of about six hours in Fort Worth federal court Thursday and Friday.
His father, Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Cepeda, and his uncle, Jose Luis Cepeda-Cortes, are on trial this week for their involvement in the death of Juan Jesus Guerrero Chapa.
All three men were indicted in 2014 on charges of interstate stalking and conspiracy to commit murder for hire. Prosecutors said this week that the men used GPS trackers and rented an apartment in Grapevine to find Guerrero, watching him closely until his death.
Ledezma-Campano’s testimony for the last two days — given in exchange for prosecutors dropping the conspiracy charge — revealed the background, buildup and aftermath of the plan to kill Guerrero.
El Gato vs. Guerrero.
El Gato wanted to find and kill Guerrero because he believed Guerrero was responsible for the death of his father, Ledezma-Campano said.
But the defendant described the vendetta as a boiling point, not an isolated incident.
The two men and their families had feuded for years, Ledezma-Campano said, going back to their small hometown of China, Mexico, near the U.S. border. El Gato referred to Guerrero only by a derogatory nickname and demanded that others to do the same.
When El Gato received the beheading video after Guerrero’s death, it only made him madder, Ledezma-Campano said.
After that, Gato had Ledezma Cepeda try to find Guerrero Chapa’s relatives living in the U.S., according to the son.
Guerrero Chapa’s sister, Dariela Chapa, is listed as a possible defense witness in the case. Her whereabouts were not disclosed Friday.
As recently as Feb. 23, Guerrero Chapa’s brother-in-law was found shot
to death in Monterrey, Mexico.
Contact information for the dead man, Moises Tijerina De La Garza, was found in
Ledezma Cepeda’s emails, court records show.
Beltran Leyva ties
Ledezma-Cepeda, according to his son’s testimony, had a working and personal relationship with the Beltran Leyva cartel.
He was close friends with one of its founders and knew El Gato through his work as a private investigator in Monterrey, Mexico.
When El Gato thought a local police chief was a “snitch,” he instructed Ledezma-Cepeda and Ledezma-Campano to place a GPS tracker on the chief’s car, the son said. The chief was later killed.
In Guerrero’s case, El Gato received the “green light” from a higher-up Beltran Leyva leader before the search began, Ledezma-Campano said.
Ledezma-Campano delved deeper into how the lines between law enforcement and cartels are often blurred in Mexico.
El Gato, Ledezma-Campano said, was a former federal police officer before becoming a “man of trust” for a Beltran Leyva leader.
El Gato’s former partner, a man Ledezma-Campano knew only as Pelon, helped in the search for Guerrero. And both Ledezma-Campano and his father had been employed by Mexican police departments.
Ledezma-Campano also revealed that his father was a leader in the Grupo Rudo, or Rude Group, which served as an alliance between Monterrey-area law enforcement and the Beltran Leyva cartel.
Ledezma-Campano described Mexican police as “cartels with a badge.”
Clorox and Captain
Ledezma-Campano revealed more about the men suspected of shooting Guerrero at Southlake Town Square: Clorox and Captain.
The hit men, Ledezma-Campano said, are El Gato’s bodyguards. They returned to Mexico after the killing, he said.
In 2013, they were staying in the Fort Worth area and had GPS trackers of their own, working separately from Ledezma-Campano and his father.
They pulled up behind Guerrero’s Range Rover in a white Toyota Sequoia. One of them got out and fired a handgun several times through the passenger seat window, killing Guerrero, authorities have said.
During cross-examination Friday, Ledezma-Campano told defense attorney Wes Ball that Clorox got his nickname because he “cleaned everything with bleach” after doing jobs for El Gato.
“I don’t know if that’s an endorsement or not,” Ball said.
Shopping trip arrest
Ledezma-Campano and Ledezma-Cepeda were arrested at the U.S. border in September 2014.
Both men had gone back and forth across the border before, as test runs, so they weren’t concerned as they drove from Monterrey to Texas to buy diapers and baby clothes for Ledezma-Campano’s newborn child.
They reached the Anzalduas International Bridge and pulled up to the border crossing, Ledezma-Campano said.
A police officer told Ledezma-Cepeda there was an issue with his visa, and then took him to an office for questioning. Ledezma-Campano stood outside the office and smoked a cigarette. When he went inside to check on his father, an officer handcuffed him, too.
Cepeda-Cortes was soon arrested at his home in nearby Edinburg.