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Months-Long MS-13 Gang Murder Trial Winds Down In San Francisco

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A prosecutor told a federal jury in San Francisco Monday that the most important rule of the MS-13 street gang is to “attack and kill rival gang members.”

“They waged war against rival gang members … and they ended up spilling a lot of blood on the streets of San Francisco,” prosecutor Wilson Leung told the jury in the court of U.S. District Judge William Alsup.

“This was what MS-13 was all about: violence and bloodletting,” the prosecutor said.

Leung spoke at the start of closing arguments in the four-month racketeering and murder conspiracy trial of seven members of the MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, gang.

The seven men, most of whom are in their early 20s, belonged to a branch of MS-13 centered at 20th and Mission streets in San Francisco.

All are accused of conspiring to racketeer, or engage in organized crime, and conspiring to commit murders. Three are also charged with carrying out four shooting murders on San Francisco streets in 2008.

Closing arguments by prosecution and defense were scheduled to take all week, and the jury was expected to begin deliberating early next week.

The MS-13 gang has roots in El Salvador and now has thousands of members in 20 states and Central America, according to prosecutors. MS-13 members identify with gangs known as “Sureños,” whose gang color is blue, and their principal rivals are “Norteños,” who use the color red.

Leung, an assistant U.S. attorney, told the jury that the racketeering included murder, attempted murder, assaults, gun use, drug dealing and extortion.

After saying that 11 guns allegedly owned by gang members had been seized, Leung read off the evidence numbers of the weapons as an agent showed one shotgun and 10 handguns to the jury one by one.

The four murder victims included a member of a rival gang, a seller of fake identification documents who refused to pay an extortion “tax” to the 20th Street group, and two men who were wearing red but were not gang members, according to prosecutors.

Defense attorneys during the trial have sought to question the credibility of former gang members who testified for the prosecution in exchange for plea deals.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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