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Public Safety

San Diego Prosecutor Who Put Mexican Street Gang Members Behind Bars Honored

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, flanked by FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Keith Slotter and San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore, announces charges against a cross-border kidnapping and murder organization.
Steve Silva
San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, flanked by FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Keith Slotter and San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore, announces charges against a cross-border kidnapping and murder organization.

The prosecutor who put numerous members of a Mexican street gang behind bars for a multitude of violent crimes in San Diego was named the Prosecutor of the Year by the California District Attorneys Association, the District Attorney's Office announced Friday.

Mark Amador was the lead prosecutor in three trials of "Los Palillos" gang members and was an assistant in two others. The cases involved 17 defendants, many of whom were found guilty of charges such as murder, kidnapping and torture.

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The longest and most complex of the trials led by Amador was that of the leaders of the organization, which lasted more than a year, involved hundreds of motions, six weeks of testimony by a confidential informant, testimony from reticent family members of the victims — many of whom themselves were incarcerated, and allegations of misconduct.

The District Attorney's Office said the prosecutor and his family were threatened with violence during the trial.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said she was proud of Amador.

"His tenacity, perseverance, professionalism, work ethic and dedication to justice make him a role model for attorneys throughout the state," Dumanis said. "He is clearly one of the finest and we're lucky to have him pursuing justice in San Diego."

The defendants in the trial involving the leadership of the gang — whose name translates to The Toothpicks — resulted in convictions and sentences to life in prison without the possibility of parole.