GPS tracker put assassin on lawyer's trail, but also helped catch the suspects, feds testify
A GPS device stuck under the Range Rover of an Texas attorney directed assassins straight to him, the feds say.
But the small black box also pointed authorities to three of the claimed culprits in the attorney slaying, according to the Dallas Morning News and the Star-Telegram. They are cousins Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Cepeda and Jose Luis Cepeda-Cortes, both 59, who are currently on trial in federal court in Fort Worth; and Ledezma-Cepeda’s son, Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Campano. He is charged in a related case and expected to testify in court against the two other defendants.
Testifying Wednesday, analyst Jeff Lloyd of the Drug Enforcement Administration said the feds found the tracker after attorney Juan Jesus Guerrero Chapa, 43, was fatally shot in his Range Rover at an upscale suburban Dallas shopping mall in 2013. Guerrero Chapa served as personal attorney and emissary to imprisoned Mexican cartel kingpin Osiel Cárdenas Guillen. He also reportedly was a U.S. government informant.
The Blackline GPS device allows a customer to track its location through an online account. But the U.S. traced the name on the account (fake) and a Gmail address, when the Canada-based Blackline company provided access to the account.
Information about that Gmail account provided to the feds by Google included another fake name. However, Lloyd said they were able to trace an IP address used to access the back-up Gmail account to one of the defendant cousins, the Star-Telegram reports.
Emails within the backup Gmail account included photos of the defendant and his bank records, among other helpful documents, Lloyd testified.
In opening statements on Tuesday, a lawyer for Ledezma-Cepeda said he had no choice but to follow orders when a rival cartel boss—who blamed Guerrero Chapa for his father’s death—insisted that the defendant track the targeted attorney.
A lawyer for Cepeda-Cortes said his client had no idea a murder was planned and was simply helping his cousin with what he understood to be a private investigation.
The two are charged with interstate stalking and murder-for-hire conspiracy.
The claimed shooter and getaway driver have not been captured.
Hat tip: Daily Caller
ABAJournal.com: “Attorney gunned down at Texas mall was de facto drug cartel chief, says defense lawyer for suspect”
Dallas Morning News: “Cartel lawyer had woman’s family killed before his assassination in Southlake, attorney says”
Wall Street Journal (sub. req.): “Texas Murder Trial to Shed Light on Mexican Drug Cartels”