Man charged in shooting expected to plead guilty

One of seven men accused of shooting two people during an attempt to abduct people being smuggled into the United States is scheduled to plead guilty Wednesday.

Court records indicate 30-year-old Jose Mario Cardenas has agreed to enter a guilty plea to criminal attempted capital murder of multiple persons.

In exchange, prosecutors have agreed to dismiss charges of engaging in organized criminal activity, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and deadly conduct, according to court records.

The shooting happened on May 31, 2019, and has been described in court as a “drive by shooting” that left Jesus Guadalupe Mares with non-life threatening injuries to his right arm and the left side of his face. David Davila, who was also shot at, was unharmed.

At the time of the shooting, the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that Mares and Davila were sitting inside a truck near the corner of Maya Drive and Minnesota Road in the Lopezville area when someone approached and began shooting at them.

The men tried to flee but were pursued by two vehicles before they crashed near Canton and Raul Longoria roads in Edinburg, according to the statement.

Sheriff J.E. “Eddie” Guerra said at the time that the shooting stemmed from a human smuggling case.

“All this stems from a human smuggling case and they were — they’re all involved in human smuggling,” Guerra said at the time. “They were trying to rip off some of the money from the proceeds from each other.”

The indictment sheds more light on that accusation, alleging the group was “going to a location to obtain possession or abduct smuggled persons, shooting at individuals in a motor vehicle occupied by smuggled persons, and/or following a motor vehicle occupied by smuggled persons.”

Victor Alejandro Ramirez, 22, Jose Reducindo Anaya III, 23, Francisco Gilberto Garcia Mayo, 26, and Jesus Javier Solis, 38, have also entered guilty pleas to criminal attempted capital murder of multiple persons. Solis also plead guilty to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

All of the men received five-year prison sentences.

Jesus Martinez, 29, has entered a not guilty plea and is scheduled for trial on June 17. That, however, is likely to be rescheduled as jury trials have been postponed until July 1, according to a June 4 order from local administrative Judge Noe Gonzalez.

An indictment against 33-year-old Yamil Garza Villarreal in the case has been dismissed in the interest of justice, court records show.