Criminal Justice

Attorney gunned down at Texas mall was de facto drug cartel chief, says defense lawyer for suspect

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An attorney from Mexico gunned down at an upscale Texas shopping mall in 2013 was the de facto chief of a Mexican drug cartel, says a defense lawyer for one of the slaying suspects.

But Juan Jesus Guerrero Chapa was also a U.S. government informant while serving as legal counsel to the cartel. Having been warned that he was being stalked by men who wanted to kill him, he was fearful, a federal prosecutor says.

As a scheduled trial looms later this month for three men charged in the death of Guerrero Chapa, 43, lawyers for both sides are providing details of the case, as they see it, in court filings, according to the Dallas Morning News and NBC DFW.

Guerrero Chapa was the personal attorney for Osiel Cardenas, a former Gulf Cartel chief who is currently serving a 25-year U.S. prison sentence. The attorney lived in Texas, but he was not licensed to practice law in Texas, the NBC DFW article recounts.

After Cardenas was arrested, Guerrero Chapa “ran a large criminal enterprise whose activities included murders, narcotics trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, bribery, money laundering and torture” and had “a large number of enemies,” a defense lawyer wrote in a Monday filing.

A week earlier, assistant U.S. attorney Joshua Burgess wrote that Guerrero Chapa had received calls from “others to warn him that he was in danger because he had been found by people who wanted to kill him,” the Dallas newspaper recounts.

The defendants are Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Cepeda; his son, Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Campano Jr.; and Jose Luis Cepeda, a cousin of the father. They are charged with conspiracy to commit murder for hire and interstate stalking resulting in death.

Three others charged in the crime are fugitives, and their indictments remain sealed.

Related coverage: “Arrests made in slaying of lawyer gunned down at shopping mall”

Dallas Morning News: “Cartel lawyer slain in Southlake left behind small estate”

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