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Jury deliberating allegations in MS-13 murder case out of Santa Maria

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Posted at 10:04 AM, Apr 17, 2022

Jury deliberations are taking place in the murder trial in Santa Maria involving multiple MS-13 gang members.

Opening statements in the case involving five of the 10 defendants began last November.

The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s says it cannot comment on the case until the jury is done deliberating on some of the allegations. Those deliberations are expected to take place Monday.

Many of the arrests happened in 2016 following several homicides in Santa Maria in the years prior.

The Santa Maria Police Department worked together with multiple law enforcement agencies and close to 150 officers in what was dubbed "Operation Matador.”

Several warrants were served at 12 locations including Santa Maria, Bakersfield, Oxnard, and even Columbus, Ohio, and on March 7, 2016, Operation Matador led to the confiscation of several firearms and the arrests of 16 people said to be involved with MS-13.

Another 40 people were also detained in the raids and were handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

By 2019, out of the 15 who were arrested, only 10 remained. They were charged with more than a dozen counts each ranging from murder to conspiracy and street gang enhancements in connection with multiple murders that took place in Santa Maria between 2013 and 2016.

Due to the size, the defendants were split up into two groups.

Opening statements for the second trial, which is still underway, began March 11.