SANTA MARIA, Calif. – Opening statements are underway in the first of two trials linked to the MS-13 gang and a massive operation that resulted in multiple arrests in 2016.
Our media partners at Noozhawk were in the court as the trial got underway Wednesday in Santa Maria.
10 people are accused of numerous felony crimes including 10 murders and 14 counts of conspiracy to commit murder.
The murders took place in Santa Maria between 2013 and 2016.
The arrests were made as part of a months-long investigation that ended with a massive sweep in the early morning hours of March 3, 2016. Authorities arrested more than a dozen people and detained about 40 others in what was known as "Operation Matador."
Multiple arrest warrants were executed simultaneously by over 150 police officers, deputies and federal agents in Santa Barbara County, Ventura County, Kern County and in Columbus, Ohio.
The court is holding two trials because administrators said one courtroom couldn't accommodate all of the participants.
The other five defendants will have their case heard in Santa Barbara court.
For several months, hundreds of potential jurors were summoned to the Santa Maria Fairpark for possible selection on the trial which are expected to last for as long as a year.
Opening statements in Santa Maria will continue Thursday.