Six of seven MS-13 gang members accused in a massive racketeering and murder conspiracy trial were convicted of a number of charges today by a federal jury in San Francisco. The defendants, most of whom are in their early 20s, were members of a branch of the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, gang centered at 20th and Mission streets in San Francisco.
Six were convicted of conspiring to racketeer, or engage in organized crime, and conspiring to commit murders. Three were also found guilty of carrying out three gang-related murders in San Francisco in 2008. Erick Lopez was found guilty of gunning down two men on March 29, 2008. Prosecutors said Lopez believed the victims to be members of a rival gang but that they were in fact not gang members.
Jonathan Cruz-Ramirez and Guillermo Herrera were convicted of murdering Armando Estrada, a document dealer who refused to pay an extortion “tax” to the gang, on July 11, 2008. But Cruz-Ramirez was acquitted of an additional charge of murdering another man on May 31, 2008.
One defendant, Walter Cruz-Zavala, was acquitted of all charges. The verdict came after more than four months of testimony and five days of jury deliberations. U.S. District Judge William Alsup scheduled sentencing for Nov. 30. The murder convictions carry a mandatory life sentence, and the racketeering conspiracy convictions have a sentence of up to life in prison.
Several defense attorneys said they are considering filing motions for a new trial.
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