A sketch of the previous MS-13 trial. Seven out of the eight defendants were found guilty on all charges this past September.
Turns out “Bad Boy” could be doing some good. The notorious gang-banger-turned-government-snitch, Roberto “Bad Boy” Acosta, has been generating controversy for years for his role in the federal government’s takedown of the 20th Street Mission branch of the ultra-violent Mara Salvatrucha gang, or MS-13. (Alleged 20th Street member Edwin Ramos became a household name after he was accused of gunning down three innocent victims in the Bologna family in the Excelsior district in June 2008—see "No Sanctuary for Danielle Bologna"). After becoming an informant in 2005, Acosta secretly recorded meetings and conversations, and even took the helm as a “shot caller,” or leader, and allegedly encouraged members to commit more crimes to bolster their hardcore image. Acosta was supposed to be one of the fed’s main witnesses for the trial of eight 20th Street members convicted on multiple charges this past spring, but he didn’t testify because he had lied to his government handlers about the eight murders he committed in Honduras the year before becoming an informant, and confessed only weeks before the trial began.
Now, in an upcoming trial for the murder of 14-year-old Ivan Miranda, a San Francisco Superior Court judge has ruled that the prosecutors will be allowed to use Bad Boy’s recordings of two defendants confessing to the murders. In July 2008, a mere month after the Bologna tragedy, Miranda was brutally stabbed to death in the Excelsior. The defendants, Rony Aguilera and Marlon Rivera, both alleged MS-13 members, were caught on Acosta’s tapes bragging about their participation in the Miranda murder.
Both the defendants were juveniles in 2008, and an all-too-familiar scenario surrounded Aguilera, an undocumented immigrant who was reportedly protected from deportation by San Francisco juvenile justice officials under a highly controversial interpretation of the city’s sanctuary law. After Aguilera was convicted of assault in 2007, San Francisco juvenile probation officials sent him to live with his parents in Houston instead of reporting him to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a practice that put San Francisco at the center of the national anti-immigrant battle (How a Nice Little Sanctuary Law Blew Up).
Aguilera and Rivera have pleaded not guilty. Their preliminary hearing is scheduled for early 2012.