Cherokee butcher plotted assassination of rival, feds say

Federal authorities said they stopped things from getting bloody between two Cherokee County butchers with an arrest that resulted in a guilty plea Friday.

ButJavier Acosta-Caudillo, who is accused of trying to hire an assassin to kill a rival  butcher, only pleaded guilty to lying to a federal officer.

“I can only assume that the federal authorities and the (multi-county) task force must not have had the level of evidence they needed for the murder-for-hire charge," said Lt. Jay Baker spokesman for the Cherokee County Sheriff Office. " I don’t think we ever had a name for the target.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert McBurney said Acosta-Caudillo, a Woodstock butcher, was angry at the rival who was undercutting his meat market's business.

Acosta-Caudillo, a Mexican national in the United States illegally, complained to a friend about the difficulty of finding a suitable assassin. The friend was an informant, who then introduced Acosta-Caudillo to an undercover agent who posed as a hit man.

The undercover agent was working with a joint federal and multi-county crime task force.

Last June, Acosta-Caudillo met with the undercover agent in a parking lot and agreed to pay the agent $5,000 to kill the rival. Acosta-Caudillo was specific about the method of death. "It was to be gunshots," McBurney said. "Not stabbing or choking."

But investigators got worried when Acosta-Caudillo became difficult to reach and stopped returning the agent's phone calls. They feared Acosta-Caudillo had found a cheaper killer and the murder might take place, Baker said.

FBI agents then questioned Acosta-Caudillo about the plot. The 37-year-old Acosta-Caudillo denied recruiting an assassin. He was arrested for lying to a federal agent.

McBurney and defense lawyer Kendal Silas were mum about any more details in the murky plot. McBurney said the investigation was ongoing.

U.S. District Judge Sterling Johnson set sentencing for Dec. 14, a  date Acosta-Caudillo -- who has been in jail since June 21 --  requested because he could be released on time served.  Acosta-Caudillo faces a possible maximum sentence of five years but the federal sentencing guidelines, which are normally followed,  recommend in his case a maximum sentence of six months.

Acosta-Caudillo will be deported to Mexico after he serves his sentence, federal authorities said.

Baker was skeptical of the butcher rivalry story.

“I think the investigation is over with, and  I don’t know if they ever swallowed the butcher story. They just don’t know if that is true or not," Baker said. “We may not ever know the truth.”