El Salvador begins mass trial of alleged MS-13 gang members

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — El Salvador on Tuesday began a mass trial of over 400 alleged gang members, including 17 purported leaders of the feared transnational crime group Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13.

Sixteen suspects were in court while the rest watched via videoconference from prisons. Nearly 100 defense lawyers are on the case, which could last until November given the volume of witnesses and evidence.

Prosecutors say they took depositions from 150 people, though only 34 are expected to testify. The star witness is a person who apparently can identify by name and nickname each one of the alleged gangsters.

Most of the suspects were arrested in 2018 when more than 1,500 special forces agents raided restaurants, bars, beauty parlors, beer halls, ranches and used car dealerships, seizing cash, bank accounts, vehicles and properties.