San Francisco's biggest gang trial in years opened Monday with a federal prosecutor accusing seven men of terrorizing city neighborhoods with assaults, shakedowns and four 2008 murders.
They are "a group that lives, breathes and celebrates violence," said Justice Department attorney Theryn Gibbons.
From the mid-1990s onward, Gibbons said, local leaders of El Salvador-based Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, have used fear and intimidation to control their Mission District turf, extort money from drug dealers and phony-document peddlers, and eliminate rivals.
Gang members are initiated by undergoing a brutal beating - which lasts 13 seconds - and then "rise in the ranks through acts of violence," Gibbons said in her opening statement in a U.S. District Court trial that could last six months.
She said their attitude was illustrated by the July 2008 shooting death of Armando Estrada, 30, of Rodeo, a seller of fake documents who had refused to pay "taxes" to MS-13 in its territory.
Gang member Guillermo Herrera, 20, fired a shotgun into the back of Estrada's head in broad daylight at 20th and Mission streets, then got into a car, "pulled down his blue bandana and laughed," the prosecutor said.
The defendants all face life sentences if convicted.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
San Francisco is not a particularly violent city, but we do have gangs. Seven members of the infamous El Salvadoran gang MS-13 have just gone on trial in the City for various acts of violence and mayhem. Is street crime one of those jobs Americans won't do any more?
Look, we all know that most illegal immigrants are hard working, salt of the earth types who wouldn't hurt a fly. Still, the City has gone out of its way to shelter these MS-13 guys. There was a long running program whereby the DA was flying juveniles out of the country rather than turn them over to the feds. Worse, one of the beneficiaries later killed a local butcher and two of his sons. A local principal once tried to prevent the police from arresting a student for murder. And so on. What's saddest is that all of this mollycoddling has hurt the Hispanic community (like the murdered "seller of fake documents") hardest, even though they are the ones for whom white progressives claim to be working so hard to protect.