The former head of a violent Mexican drug cartel is named as a potential witness in the trial of three men accused of stalking his alleged successor who was murdered in Southlake three years ago.
Osiel Cardenas, who led the Gulf Cartel until he was arrested in March 2003, would testify about "cartel activities/relationships" and the activities of the victim, Juan Guerrero Chapa, according to a document filed late Tuesday.
Cardenas is now being held at the "Supermax" federal prison in Colorado.
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Meanwhile, one of the three defendants, a former Mexican police officer, has pleaded guilty, NBC 5 has learned.
Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Campano entered a guilty plea last month in a secret hearing and will testify against his father and father’s cousin in a trial set to start in Fort Worth next week.
The three family members were accused of using high-tech remote cameras and GPS tracking devices to follow Chapa, an attorney who was living in a $1 million mansion in Southlake with his wife and children, before he was murdered on the town square in May 2013.
According to defense attorneys, Guerrero became the “de facto” head of the Gulf Cartel after Cardenas was arrested and transferred to the United States.
Prosecutors have not said publicly which drug cartel may have wanted Guerrero dead or why.
The Dallas Morning News reported last week that Guerrero had helped U.S. authorities round up $50 million in drug money that Cardenas had forfeited in a plea deal and also provided key information about cartel activities.
In the deal, Cardenas received just 25 years in prison – considered light for the head of a major cartel responsible for countless murders and tortures – and in exchange agreed to spill cartel secrets to the feds.
Guerrero, his longtime attorney, became a U.S. informant.
The Zetas, who had been the Gulf Cartel’s enforcers, felt so betrayed they declared independence, sparking a bloody drug war that raged for years, the newspaper said.
At 32, Ledezma-Campano is the youngest of the defendants and could get a significant reduction in his sentence for his testimony and cooperation.
Payroll records show in 2010, Ledezma-Campano earned about $400 per month as a police officer in San Pedro Garza, a wealthy suburb of Monterrey, Mexico.
His attorney, Steve Gordon of Fort Worth, declined to comment on the guilty plea.
Prosecutors also declined to talk.
From the beginning, Southlake police said it was a professional hit.
Guerrero, 43, was gunned down in broad daylight as he was getting into his Land Rover at the Southlake Town Square after shopping with his wife. She was not injured.
According to police, surveillance video showed a gunman jumping out of the back seat of an SUV. The ambush lasted just six seconds. Guerrero was shot once in the chest and nine times in the back, according to his autopsy.
A little more than a year later, the FBI arrested the three suspects.
Ledezma-Campano and his father, Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Cepeda, 59, were nabbed in September 2014 when they crossed a bridge from Mexico to McAllen, Texas. The father’s cousin, Jose Luis Cepeda-Cortes, 59, was arrested at a house in nearby Edinberg.
CASE CLOAKED IN SECRECY
In a case cloaked in unusual secrecy, records relating to Ledezma-Campano’s guilty plea remain sealed.
But NBC 5 obtained an order from U.S. District Judge Terry Means setting Ledezma-Campano’s sentencing hearing for Aug. 23. Sentencing dates are not set without guilty pleas or convictions.
The order was publicly posted on the federal court’s website but was later removed.
Two people with knowledge of the case confirm the deal.
The three Mexican citizens were not the actual triggermen, prosecutors said. Instead, they are charged with the rarely-used federal crime of interstate stalking.
Three others, whose names are blacked out in a recently-unsealed indictment, are apparently accused of committing the actual murder. They have not been arrested.
In the stalking case, court documents portray the three suspects as running an elaborate intelligence operation, presumably for a cartel. Prosecutors have linked them to as many as 12 other drug-related murders around Monterrey, Mexico’s third-largest city.