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Thanksgiving Day Murder of Ex-Con in Phoenix Was Mexican Mafia Hit, Cops Say

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A suspected Mexican Mafia member has been arrested in the shooting death of ex-con Erasmo Ledezma on Thanksgiving, as police say Mexican Mafia members had a "green light" to kill Ledezma because he had previously "snitched" to the cops.

The alleged gangster and shooter has been identified as Steven Benavidez, who -- as you can see in the picture to the right -- has a good amount of face tattoos.

See also:
-Erasmo Ledezma, Ex-Con Released Early From Prison, Murdered on Thanksgiving
-Thanksgiving Homicide in Phoenix: Police Find Body With "Trauma"

According to court documents obtained by New Times, Ledezma told at least one person before his death that he thought the Mexican Mafia had the "green light" to kill him for "snitching" to the cops, leading to a recent arrest.

Witnesses told police that in the days before Ledezma's murder, several people were asking for his whereabouts, saying they needed to collect "taxes" from Ledezma, and that it was "time to pay up," the documents state.

In a probable-cause statement, police say the "taxing" of Mexican Mafia members is common, in order to support and fund the gang's criminal enterprises.

Witnesses told cops that Benavidez and other gangsters said told them they'd need to help find Ledezma, or the Mexican Mafia "would retaliate violently" against them, the documents state.

Based on these threats, police say one person gave up Ledezma's location.

Ledezma, who had a warrant out for his arrest at the time, was found shot to death around 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving, near Washington and 40th Street.

Police arrested Benavidez for murder and other charges after finding him in Phoenix on Friday night.

Police have identified alleged Mexican Mafia associates Julio Carrizoza and Yesenia Robles as conspirators in Ledezma's murder, and court documents note that other Mexican Mafia members are believe to have been involved as well.

Benavidez's bond has been set at $200,000.

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