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Opening statements conclude in murder trial for five Santa Maria MS-13 gang members

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Posted at 3:39 PM, Nov 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-19 02:50:07-05

Opening statements wrapped up Thursday for the murder trial of five Santa Maria MS-13 gang members accused of killing 10 people from 2013 to 2016.

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

The court learned of two different incidents in 2016 in Guadalupe and Oxnard where the gang members were trying to hunt down enemies and kill them.

The prosecution said law enforcement was able to intercept and stop them while keeping a close eye on their phone lines.

In a wiretap from February 8th, 2016, the prosecution said there was an exchange between some of the defendants trying to track down their enemies in Guadalupe.

One defendant questioned if they see the chickens while another responded that they did not find them in the field.

The prosecutor said the defendants often referred to their enemies as chickens and they were trying to hunt them down while at work.

According to the prosecution, Santa Maria Police issued a fake press release to make the defendants think their enemies were arrested.

In their next quest, the defendants were allegedly targeting four rivals in Oxnard wanting to make soup, a term the prosecution said is often used for killing.

Police tapped the wires again and were able to stop two separate shooting attempts of those rivals by swarming the area.

Police say the gang called off the attacks.

One of the defendant’s vehicles was pulled over with a gun inside with one defendant pointing out during a wiretap quote: “All the deaths that those guns have on them.”

Some of the taps revealed the defendants and conspirators looked at the KSBY website following the deadly shootings.

On March 3, 2016, search and arrest warrants were made in Santa Maria, Bakersfield and Ohio ending the killing spree.

The prosecutor said that during search warrants of the defendant's homes’ some of the guns used in the multiple killings were discovered.

On Thursday the court heard several audio recordings of the victims recounting to first responders what happened during the shootings saying that the suspects looked like ordinary men.

The prosecution argued that’s the MO of MS-13, to fly under the radar.

Four of the five defense attorneys spoke during opening statements. All denied their clients’ involvement in the case.

One lawyer pointed out that three of the seven guns allegedly used in the homicides were never found while another argued that the prosecution built their case around association.

The trial will resume Nov. 29th at 8:45 a.m.