Fugitive MS-13 leader arrested, will face terrorism charges in Long Island courtroom

NEW YORK — A fugitive leader of MS-13 will be hauled back to New York to face terrorism charges after his arrest in Texas over the weekend, according to federal prosecutors.

Cesar Humberto Lopez-Larios, 45, oversaw the bloodthirsty gang’s rise in El Salvador and the U.S. starting in 2002, and sat in MS-13’s inner circle, which ran military-style training camps and ordered murders, assaults, kidnapping, drug dealing, extortion and other crimes, the feds say.

Lopez-Larios was arrested at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston on June 9 after three years on the run. He’ll appear in a federal courtroom in Long Island at a later date.

He’s the third of 14 MS-13 leaders to be arrested on a 2020 indictment alleging terrorism and narco-terrorism conspiracy. The feds have indicted a total 27 members of the gang’s leadership structure in two separate cases.

“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,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said Monday.

“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.”

MS-13 got its start in Los Angeles among the city’s community of El Salvadoran immigrants, then rose to power after the U.S. deported thousands of Salvadorans in the early 1990s.

The gang’s members were linked to dozens of murders in Long Island and Queens in the mid 2010s, often using machetes to chop up their victims, leading to a series of crackdowns that netted scores of suspects in recent years.

Lopez-Larios is accused of being part of MS-13’s top leadership, who dubbed themselves the “Twelve Apostles of the Devil,” as they sat in an El Salvadoran prison in 2002. The gang established military-style training camps for its members and got weapons like rifles, handguns, grenades, improvised explosive devices and rocket launchers, the feds said.

He also helped form the gang’s Ranfla Nacional, which used acts of public violence to extort benefits out of El Salvador’s government, brokered drug and weapons deals with Mexican cartels, engaged in human trafficking and smuggling, and directed the gang’s activities in the U.S., the feds allege.

Lopez could face a lifetime prison sentence in convicted.