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Federal officials issue weapons, murder charges against 19 people

In a major move, federal law enforcement officials recently announced that they have arrested and charged 19 people in connection with a 2010 California incident that resulted in the death of three individuals. According to their announcement, the criminal charges filed include federal firearms offenses, racketeering and murder.

This was an apparent act of violence between two rival gangs. In all, four have been charged with murder, one person was charged with attempted murder and weapons crimes for an unrelated incident and 12 others were hit with racketeering conspiracy charges. The charges came on the heels of a massive effort between local and federal agencies to nab individuals with suspected of gang associations.

The four individuals who were struck with murder charges could face the death penalty if they are convicted. Knowing how the law enforcement effort will be viewed in the public's eye, the U.S. Attorney's Office will likely pursue all of the charges aggressively.

One of the problems that can arise in a major bust, such as this case, is that unknowing individuals may have been caught up in the police's dragnet. Some of those arrested may have been innocent bystanders within the larger incident. Understanding this possibility, it will be important for the evidence to be scrutinized as it relates to each of the criminal charges.

Even though it's likely that a tremendous amount of time and resources have been devoted to apprehending these individuals, it must not be assumed that those arrested are guilty even before they have gone on trial. The facts of the case will be put to the test as prosecutors attempt to meet the burden of proof necessary to achieve conviction. If there is doubt that one or more of the individuals played an active role in the gang's operations, they should receive the fair legal judgment that they deserve.

Source: South San Francisco Patch, "Four Could Face Death Penalty in 2010 Triple Homicide," Drew Himmelstein, May 3, 2012

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