Prosecutors and defense lawyers in the MS13 gang trial are locked in a battle over use of audio recordings made by a confidential informant known only as 1211. The government decided it would skip calling the informant to testify after telling the defense inFebruary he had participated in eight murders and lied about it in government debriefings.
The defense argues the government can’t use the audio tapes because informant 1211 cannot testify to their authenticity or whether they were tampered with in any way. The informant wore a body wire and also made phone recordings during the years leading up to the 2008 gang indictment.
The government counters that it has an expert from Denmark who can show the tapes were not tampered with, and it can authenticate the tapes by testimony of other witnesses who were in the same meetings with the informant.
The informant spent six years as a paid informant for the government on the MS13 case, but has since been indicted for false reports to federal agents.
The gang trial underway in federal court before U.S. District Judge William Alsup is held in a high security courtroom with seven defendants and their lawyers seated in a three-tier gallery directly across the room from jurors.
Seven men are among 29 originally indicted on charges that as members of the 20th Street clique of MS-13 they were part of a racketeering conspiracy that included four murders in 2008, assaults and extortion in the city’s Mission District.
Case: US v. Cerna, CR08-730WHA