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Murder trial begins for five Santa Maria MS-13 gang members

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Posted at 5:31 PM, Nov 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-18 01:21:36-05

Opening statements began Wednesday for the murder trial involving multiple MS-13 gang members.

The five men standing trial are; Juan Membreno, Tranquilino Morales, Luis German Orellana, Juan Carlos Serrano and Marcos Torres.

According to the prosecution, there were 15 victims ranging in age between 17 to 34 years old associated with rival gangs and all in the Santa Maria territory of MS-13. Only five of those 15 victims survived.

The prosecution said seven guns were used during the murders and attacks and in each case, the victim was shot multiple times or up to 10 times.

The five defendants in this trial were a part of the street gang, Mara Salvatrucha but they’re known as the Santa Maria Little Salvi’s. All five men have pleaded not guilty.

During opening statements Wednesday, the prosecution said that law enforcement did wiretaps of four of the defendants’ phones from January to March of 2016, ultimately saving the lives of six additional people.

During the time of the wiretaps, Santa Maria police say they found photos of the defendants throwing up gang signs and also wearing blue LA Dodger gear because LA is the birthplace of MS-13 and blue is their color. Some of the defendants also had tattoos in the sign of a bull which is MS-13’s symbol.

The Santa Maria Little Salvi’s are affiliated with LA and El Salvador and police found Facebook and What’s App messages exchanged to the country.

Opening statements will resume Thursday at 8:30 a.m.

Five additional defendants will have a second trial. The date of that trial has not been determined as jury selection is still underway.