A suspected leader of the notorious MS-13 gang, who authorities accuse of terrorizing communities in the U.S. and abroad for decades, targeting law enforcement and orchestrating violence, has been charged with a federal terrorism conspiracy.
Elmer Canales-Rivera, 47, also known as “Crook de Hollywood,” was arrested by federal agents on Nov. 9 as he arrived at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement Press release.
He is charged with conspiracy to provide and conceal material support for terrorists, conspiracy to commit terrorist attacks across national borders, conspiracy to finance terrorism and conspiracy to commit drug terrorism, prosecutors said.
“We allege that Elmer Canales-Rivera, a founding member of MS-13’s Twelve Apostles of the Devil, is responsible for the gang’s decades-long efforts to terrorize communities, target law enforcement, and here in the United States and to sow violence abroad,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement. “The arrest of this high-ranking, long-time MS-13 leader should serve as a warning to other MS-13 leaders that the Department of Justice will hold you accountable for your crimes.”
Authorities allege he was part of the leadership of MS-13, known as the Twelve Apostles of the Devil. He allegedly directed material support for terrorists in El Salvador and the United States, authorities said in the news release.
“This arrest makes clear that there is no hiding place for the leaders of criminal syndicates that threaten our communities,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas.
The indictments also name 27 of MS-13’s most senior leaders who were indicted in the Eastern District of New York, authorities said.
Prosecutors said Canales-Rivera, his co-defendants and other MS-13 leaders built a highly organized command structure in 2002, making decisions and enforcing orders, even in prison.
“They directed acts of violence and killings in El Salvador, the United States and elsewhere, established military training camps for their members, and acquired military weapons such as rifles, handguns, grenades, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and rocket launchers. officials said in the press release.
In 2012, Canales-Rivera and other Ranfla Nacional members negotiated with officials of the Government of El Salvador (GOES) and obtained benefits and concessions from them, officials said.
“In order to obtain these benefits and concessions from GOES, MS-13 engaged in public displays of force to threaten and intimidate civilians, attacked GOES law enforcement and military officials, and manipulated the electoral process in El Salvador,” the press release said . “Canales-Rivera played one of the most prominent roles in MS-13’s negotiations and agreements with the GOES.”
Mexican authorities arrested Canales-Riveral on Nov. 7 after he was released from a prison in El Salvador and entered Guatemala illegally, prosecutors said.
Do you have a tip we should know? [email protected]