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Second MS-13 trial underway in Santa Maria

Posted at 11:58 AM, Mar 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-21 23:00:23-04

A second trial in Santa Maria involving MS-13 gang members is underway.

Jury selection, which began in January for the latest trial involving three defendants, took seven weeks, according to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.

Opening statements began March 11 and wrapped up four days later.

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.”

Thousands of potential jurors were summoned for the trials, which are expected to last quite some time.

The DA’s Office says it cannot give a timeline yet for the second trial, but says the jury is qualified to serve through the end of September if needed.

The defendants are charged with more than a dozen counts each ranging from murder to conspiracy and street gang enhancements.

The first trial involving five defendants started with opening statements in November and is also still underway.