Mexican Mafia Defendant May Face Death Penalty

The U.S. attorney's office will seek the death penalty for a suspected Mexican Mafia member accused of taking part in the murders of three men in Montebello last November, it was announced Monday.

The defendant, Mariano Martinez, also known as Chuy, is one of 43 people indicted recently in what federal and local authorities described as a major crackdown on the prison-based gang.

A spokesman for the federal prosecutor's office said the decision to seek the death penalty in Martinez's trial was approved by Atty. Gen. Janet Reno.

A decision is pending on four other defendants implicated in the slayings of Richard Serrano, Jose Gutierrez and Enrique Delgadillo last Nov. 18.

Prosecution documents said Martinez conspired to murder at least 10 other people.

The racketeering cases against the 43 defendants are expected to go to trial next year.

The U.S. attorney's office has sought the death penalty only a few times since Congress reinstated capital punishment for federal crimes in 1988. Last December, it obtained Reno's consent to seek the death penalty for Roy C. Green, an inmate awaiting trial on charges of killing a guard at Lompoc federal prison.

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