Trial begins for Gulf Cartel leader's killers in Dallas

AP/Houston Chronicle:
A man who was slain at an upscale suburban Dallas shopping center is identified in federal court documents as the acting leader of a notorious Mexican cartel, a claim that would run counter to the long-held belief that drug kingpins seldom try to hide in the United States.

Juan Jesus Guerrero Chapa moved into a million-dollar home in Southlake in 2011, two years before he was fatally shot by three men who prosecutors say had been stalking him for months.

According to a recent court filing submitted by the lawyers for Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Cepeda — one of three suspects slated to stand trial for Chapa's killing — Chapa became the interim head of the Gulf Cartel — one of Mexico's most violent drug-trafficking rings — following the arrest of predecessor Osiel Cardenas-Guillen, who was extradited to the U.S. in 2007 and later sentenced to 25 years in prison.

As head of the Gulf Cartel, "Chapa ran a large criminal enterprise whose activities included murders, narcotics trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, bribery, money laundering and torture," the court filing says.

It appears Chapa in part was seeking anonymity with his family in moving to the Dallas metro region. Court records said he had been living in fear because "he had been found by people who wanted to kill him."

Federal officials say it's unusual to find high-ranking gang leaders like Chapa in Texas, and particularly North Texas, a region the cartels over the years have used as a jumping off point to spread their drug distribution network. The Dallas region, fed by several freeways and small airports, allows for direct routes into the Midwest and beyond.
This is an example of the spillage from the criminal insurgency in Mexico.  The Gulf Cartel had been in a deadly battle with the Zeta cartel it had originally set up as its muscle.  The Sinaloa gang had also joined the fray in the fight for distribution routes into the US.


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