Three in Custody on Federal Charges Stemming from the Murder of a Southlake, Texas Man in May 2013
FORT WORTH, TX—Three Mexican citizens are in federal custody following their arrest last Friday, September 5, 2014, in McAllen, Texas, on federal charges stemming from the murder of a Southlake, Texas, man in May 2013. The announcement was made this afternoon at a press conference, held at Southlake’s Department of Public Safety, by Stephen Mylett, Chief of the Southlake Police Department; John Parker, First Assistant U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Texas; Diego Rodriguez, Special Agent in Charge for the FBI Dallas Division; and Daniel R. Salter, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Dallas Field Division.
“The Southlake Police Department could not have been successful without the assistance of our regional partners,” said Chief Mylett. “Over the past year, a great deal of work has been conducted in order to bring those responsible for Mr. Chapa’s murder to justice. Through this collaborative effort, three individuals were identified as having played a principal role in the conspiracy to commit this heinous murder.”
Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Cepeda, a/k/a “Chuy” and “Juan Ramos,” 58, is charged in a federal indictment, returned in early July 2014 by a federal grand jury in Fort Worth, Texas, and unsealed yesterday, with one count of interstate stalking resulting in death and aiding and abetting. He was arrested on the Anzalduas International Bridge at the checkpoint.
Two others were arrested on the same charge as outlined in a federal criminal complaint filed on Friday, September 5, 2014, and unsealed this afternoon. Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Campano, 30, was also arrested on the Anzalduas International Bridge at the checkpoint. Jose Luis Cepeda-Cortes, 58, who is legally in the U.S. on a green card, was arrested at a residence in Edinburg, Texas. Ledezma-Cepeda is Ledezma-Campano’s father and Cepeda-Cortes’s cousin.
Two of the defendants made their initial appearances yesterday before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in McAllen. Defendant Ledezma-Campano made his initial appearance this morning; his preliminary, detention and identity hearings are set for 11:00 a.m. on Friday in federal court in McAllen. The Northern District of Texas is coordinating with the U.S. Marshals Service to transport the defendants to the Northern District for prosecution.
“Today I commend the dedicated and relentless efforts of the FBI, assisted by the DEA, who, along with the Southlake Police Department, led this extensive investigation to identify and apprehend those responsible for Mr. Chapa’s murder last year,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Parker. “I also want to thank our other law enforcement partners who assisted in this 16-month-long investigation—ATF, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office and the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office. These law enforcement agencies have a proven history of working extremely well together and I’m very proud of that fact.”
“I am proud for our collective agencies, and for the community, that we are able to make these arrest announcements today,” said Special Agent in Charge Rodriguez. “While the investigation of this heinous, public crime remains ongoing, residents can be assured that your safety and protection is of greatest concern to law enforcement.”
“This is a perfect example of cooperative and effective law enforcement,” said Special Agent in Charge Salter. “The long arm of the law is far reaching and the efforts of these investigators and prosecutors has asssured that those responsible face justice in the courts of the United States of America.”
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 a Range Rover vehicle that was parked in Southlake Town Square. Video surveillance showed an individual exit the rear passenger side of a Toyota Sequoia after it pulled behind Mr. Chapa’s vehicle, and then walk to the passenger side where Mr. Chapa was seated. A few seconds later, the Sequoia drove away and Mr. Chapa was dead.
According to documents filed in the case, beginning on approximately March 1, 2011 and continuing to May 22, 2013, the three defendants traveled in interstate and foreign commerce from Mexico to Southlake, and elsewhere, with the intent to kill Mr. Chapa.
Cepeda-Cortes used e-mail in an effort to locate Mr. Chapa, exchanging personal information regarding Mr. Chapa’s family, photographs of Mr. Chapa’s residence, vehicles associated with Mr. Chapa’s family and personal information about Mr. Chapa. In addition, at various times during this period, the defendants rented an apartment in Grapevine, Texas, where they stayed while tracking Mr. Chapa.
The defendants used various means to 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, according to the complaint, allowed them to change vehicles often and use non-descript rental vehicles to avoid detection by Mr. Chapa and his family. They placed automobile tracking devices on their vehicles, as well as vehicles owned and operated by Mr. Chapa and his relatives, including the Range Rover Mr. Chapa was in when he was murdered.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law. A federal complaint is a written statement of the essential facts of the offenses charged and must be made under oath before a U.S. magistrate judge. A defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The government has 30 days to present the case to a federal grand jury for indictment. The maximum statutory penalty for the offense as charged is life in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
The investigation remains ongoing and additional arrests are expected.