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  1. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
  2. News Room
  3. Fugitive, High-Ranking MS-13 Leader Arrested on Terrorism Charges Following Joint Investigation

Fugitive, High-Ranking MS-13 Leader Arrested on Terrorism Charges Following Joint Investigation With HSI National Gang Unit, International Operations and New York Field Office

Release Date: June 18, 2024

Defendant was a member of MS-13’s original Twelve Apostles of the Devil and Ranfla Nacional leadership structure in El Salvador, Mexico and the United States

NEW YORK — A Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York investigation, in coordination with HSI International Operations, the National Gang Unit, and additional law enforcement partners resulted in the arrest of Cesar Humberto Lopez-Larios, also known as Grenas de Stoners and Oso de Stoners.

Lopez-Larios is a high-ranking leader of La Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13. He and 13 other high-ranking MS-13 leaders have been charged with directing the transnational criminal organization’s criminal activities in the United States, El Salvador, Mexico and elsewhere over the past two decades.

Lopez-Larios, who was a fugitive for more than three years, was arrested by HSI and the FBI on June 9, when he arrived at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas. Specifically, Lopez-Larios is charged with 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.

“Cesar Humberto 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,” said HSI New York Special Agent in Charge Ivan J. Arvelo. “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.”

According to the investigation, Lopez-Larios and his co-defendants are part of MS-13’s command and control structure, consisting of the Ranfla Nacional, Ranfla en Las Calles and Ranfla en Los Penales. They play significant leadership roles in the organization’s operations in El Salvador, Mexico, the United States, and throughout the world. In total, 27 of the highest-ranking leaders of MS-13 have been charged in the Eastern District of New York in this indictment and the related indictment of United States v. Arevalo Chavez, et al.

As further alleged, in approximately 2002, Lopez-Larios, his co-defendants and other MS-13 leaders began establishing a highly organized, hierarchical command and control structure to effectuate their decisions and enforce their orders, even while in prison. They directed acts of violence and murder in El Salvador, the United States and elsewhere; established military-style training camps for MS-13 members; and obtained military weapons such as rifles, handguns, grenades, improvised explosive devices and rocket launchers. Further, beginning in approximately 2012, Lopez-Larios and other members of the Ranfla Nacional negotiated with officials from the government of El Salvador to obtain benefits and concessions from the government. To extort those benefits and concessions, MS-13 engaged in public displays of violence to threaten and intimidate civilian populations, target law enforcement and military officials, and manipulate the electoral process in El Salvador.

Additionally, as alleged, the Ranfla Nacional directed the expansion of MS-13 activities around the world, including the United States and Mexico, where Lopez-Larios and other high-ranking leaders were sent to organize operations, make connections to obtain narcotics and firearms from Mexican drug cartels such as the Zetas, the Gulf Cartel, Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and the Sinaloa Cartel, and engage in human trafficking and smuggling. The Ranfla Nacional also directed MS-13’s large membership in the United States to engage in criminal activities, such as drug trafficking and extortion to raise money to support MS-13’s terrorist activities in El Salvador and elsewhere. Lopez-Larios, who has been an MS-13 leader for approximately two decades in El Salvador, Mexico and the United States, was an original member of MS-13’s Twelve Apostles of the Devil and later became a member of the Ranfla Nacional.

Finally, the Ranfla Nacional and MS-13’s transnational leadership structure is alleged to have directed members in the United States to commit acts of violence to further its goals and implement rules enabling MS-13 to entrench itself in parts of the United States, including within the Eastern District of New York where, under the defendants’ leadership and rules, MS-13 has committed murders, attempted murders, assaults, kidnappings, drug trafficking, extortion of individuals and businesses, and obstruction of justice, and has sent dues and the proceeds of criminal activity by wire transfer to MS-13 leaders in El Salvador. For example, the Long Island Criminal Division has prosecuted hundreds of MS-13 leaders, members and associates for carrying out more than 70 murders in the Eastern District of New York between 2009 and the present.

Two related defendants from the Arevalo-Chavez indictment, Jorge Alexander De La Cruz, also known as Cruger de Peatonales, and Francisco Javier Roman-Bardales, also known as Veterano de Tribus, remain at large. Members of the public with information concerning their whereabouts are strongly encouraged to contact HSI’s tip line at 877-4-HSI-TIP or the FBI’s toll-free MS-13 tip line, 866-STP-MS13. Together, HSI and the FBI have offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the fugitives’ arrests and convictions.

“The arrest of Lopez-Larios, who is one of the most senior leaders of MS-13 in the world, is a significant achievement for law enforcement and another crucial step in the dismantling of this international criminal enterprise,” stated U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace. “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.”

“Now that Mr. Lopez-Larios is behind bars, he's no longer in his alleged position of power directing a reign of terror, nor enriching MS-13 and their cartel associates,” said FBI Los Angeles acting Assistant Director in Charge Krysti Hawkins. “The FBI will continue to collaborate with our partners to seek justice and to find the remaining fugitives of this vicious transnational criminal enterprise.”

Last Updated: 06/20/2024
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