The three are the remaining holdouts from a case that included 34 defendants in early 2008 — the fruits of an FBI-led investigation that began in 2004 and was aimed at crippling the gang’s operations outside prison.
The trial before U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia might take up to a month.
Most of the case’s defendants, including other high-ranking members, took plea deals to avoid potential life sentences, agreeing to prison terms ranging from six to 40 years.
Several admitted to participating in slayings that occurred between 2000 and 2005 in and near San Antonio.
Some of the killings grabbed little attention when they happened, but others gripped newspaper readers and television viewers because they were done in public. For instance, a gang rival, Juan Perez, was shot Dec. 5, 2004, in front of numerous witnesses in Graham Central Station, a Northwest Side nightclub.
In an opening statement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joey Contreras gave jurors a primer on the gang, also known as “Mexikanemi.”
It was founded in 1984 by Heriberto “Herb” Huerta, Benito “Viejito” Alonzo and others. Huerta, 57, who Contreras called the gang’s “president for life,” is serving a life sentence in a federal prison in Colorado. Alonzo, 75, who Contreras said is “vice president for life,” is in a Texas prison.
“The Texas Mexican Mafia exists for one purpose: to commit crime after crime after crime, including murder,” said Contreras, who is prosecuting the case with Bexar County Assistant District Attorney Mary Green.