07/21/2024

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Cesar Humberto Lopez-Larios (Left mug shot from the FBI; right mug shot from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

One of MS-13’s highest ranking members wanted for 20-year reign of violence arrested in Texas on terrorism charges after 3 years on the run: Feds

Cesar Humberto Lopez-Larios (Left mug shot from the FBI; right mug shot from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

One of the FBI’s most wanted senior leaders of the MS-13 gang, allegedly responsible for directing crimes including murder during a 20-year reign of violence, was arrested in Texas on terrorism charges after being on the run for three years, authorities said.

Cesar Humberto Lopez-Larios, 45, also known as “Grenas de Stoners” and “Oso de Stoners,” was arrested on Sunday at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas. He faces charges of conspiracy to provide and conceal material support to terrorists, conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, conspiracy to finance terrorism and narco-terrorism conspiracy, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced in a news release.

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    U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said Lopez-Larios’ capture is another step toward dismantling the gang.

    “The defendant will soon face a reckoning in a federal courtroom on Long Island where, acting on his orders, MS-13 has spilled so much blood and turned communities into war zones,” Peace said.

    FBI Acting Assistant Director-in-Charge Krysti Hawkins said he’s no longer directing a reign of terror nor “enriching MS-13 and their cartel associates.”

    “The FBI will continue to collaborate with our partners to seek justice and to find the remaining fugitives of this vicious transnational criminal enterprise.”

    Homeland Security Investigation’s New York Special Agent-in-Charge Ivan J. Arvelo said Lopez-Larios’ arrest represents yet another significant leader of MS-13 to be brought to justice this year.

    “Despite his attempts to evade authorities, Lopez-Larios must now answer to criminal charges stemming from his alleged management of one of the most malicious transnational criminal organizations in existence today,” he said. “Although Lopez-Larios, also known as ‘Grenas de Stoners’ to his followers, is now in custody, we recognize there is more to be done. HSI New York, working with our law enforcement partners, will not cease in our efforts to hold MS-13 accountable for their unmitigated violence in communities across New York and elsewhere.”

    Lopez-Larios and 13 of the world’s highest-ranking MS-13 leaders were charged in an indictment unsealed in 2021. Lopez-Larios was an original member of the “Twelve Apostles of the Devil,” referring to MS-13’s top leader, whose nickname is “Diablito de Hollywood.” Lopez-Larios was also a member of the Ranfla Nacional — the gang’s “Board of Directors” who ordered violence and criminal activity around the world for almost two decades.

    Ranfla Nacional is said to have given the “green light” to kill law enforcement and government officials in El Salvador and ordered a hit on an FBI Special Agent detailed to El Salvador investigating the gang.

    The defendants are accused of calling for acts of violence and murder in El Salvador, the U.S. and elsewhere, establishing military-style training camps and obtaining weapons, including improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and rocket launchers.

    They allegedly negotiated with officials from the government of El Salvador to obtain benefits and concessions from the government, engaged in public displays of violence to threaten and intimidate civilian populations, targeted law enforcement and military officials, and manipulated the electoral process in El Salvador.

    He’s expected to appear in a federal courtroom in New York at a later date, officials said.

    MS-13 was established in Southern California in the 1980s by immigrants from Central America. Since growing into a multinational organization in 2015, the Supreme Court of El Salvador has designated the gang as a terrorist organization.

    In 2017, Lopez-Larios was among 53 MS-13 gang members arrested as part of an 18-month crackdown on the gang by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit (TCIU) in El Salvador.

    He was arrested for illegal reentry after deportation, authorities announced in a news release.

    Officials described him in the news release as the highest member of the Stoners Locos Salvatruchos, who controlled the gang from Los Angeles. After he was removed from the U.S. to El Salvador, he was immediately arrested in that country for conspiracy to commit homicide according to Salvadoran law, authorities said.

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    In 2019, he was sentenced in El Salvador to 163 years in prison but was released from custody the following year after the deadline to make his sentence final had supposedly expired, reported the Salvadoran newspaper, El Diario de Hoy.

    FOCOS El Salvador reported he was released in October 2020, despite the fact that he was in preventive detention for other crimes.

    As Law&Crime previously reported, one of his co-defendants, an alleged MS-13 gang leader nicknamed “Crook de Hollywood,” was indicted in November.

    The post One of MS-13’s highest ranking members wanted for 20-year reign of violence arrested in Texas on terrorism charges after 3 years on the run: Feds first appeared on Law & Crime.