A high-ranking MS-13 leader will go on trial in New York to face accusations he fueled terrorism activities in the El Salvador, Mexico, the United States and elsewhere, a Houston federal court announced Wednesday.

Élmer ‘Crook de Hollywood’ Canales, 47, was arrested November 7 in Mexico where he had been hiding out after he was released from a Salvadoran prison in November 2021, and to the United States on November 10.

Canales is accused by the Eastern District of New York of conspiring to provide and conceal material support to terrorists, conspiring to commit acts of terrorism across national boundaries. In addition, he is also being charged with conspiring to finance terrorism and terrorism conspiracy.

He is one of the founders of the MS-13 ‘Twelve Apostles of the Devil’ cell and reportedly spread terror for two decades across the region, according to United States Attorney General Merrick B.

Garland said: ‘Canales bears responsibility for the gang’s efforts over decades to terrorize communities, target law enforcement, and sow violence in the United States and abroad. The arrest of this high-ranking, long-time leader of MS-13 should serve as a warning to MS-13’s other leaders that the Justice Department will hold you accountable for your crimes.’

Salvadoran national Élmer Canales was arrested in Mexico on November 7 and extradited to the United States on November 9. The high-ranking MS-13 gang leader is accused by the U.S. of spreading terrorism from El Salvador to Mexico, the United States and other countries. He will have to stand trial in a New York federal court

Salvadoran national Élmer Canales was arrested in Mexico on November 7 and extradited to the United States on November 9. The high-ranking MS-13 gang leader is accused by the U.S. of spreading terrorism from El Salvador to Mexico, the United States and other countries. He will have to stand trial in a New York federal court

As a leader within the MS-13 command structure, Élmer Canales (center) allegedly conspired to provide and conceal material support to terrorists and conspired to commit acts of terrorism across national boundaries

As a leader within the MS-13 command structure, Élmer Canales (center) allegedly conspired to provide and conceal material support to terrorists and conspired to commit acts of terrorism across national boundaries

Canales and 13 other gang members were indicted in December 2020. Along with 14 other high-ranking leaders who were previously charged in the indictment, they allegedly formed part of the MS-13’s command and control structure, which included the Ranfla Nacional, Ranfla en Las Calles, and Ranfla en Los Penales.

U.S. authorities allege that around 2002, the three gang cells started plotting and executing acts of violence and murder in El Salvador, the US and abroad.

MS-13 gang members were underwent training in camps that resembled the military and were provided military-style weapons, including improvised explosive devices and rocket launchers.

Approximately in 2012, Canales and Ranfla Nacional members allegedly reached deals with the El Salvador government in exchange for ‘benefits and concessions’ that were obtained by unleashing a wave of violence that threatened and intimidated civilians while also targeting officials in the armed forces and police, and interfering with elections in El Salvador.

Under Canales, the Ranfla Nacional expanded MS-13 operations outside El Salvador’s borders and purchased weapons from Mexican criminal organizations, including the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and Sinaloa Cartel, and became involved in human trafficking and smuggling.

The United States government approached El Salvador with an extradition request for Elmer Canales in 2021

The United States government approached El Salvador with an extradition request for Elmer Canales in 2021

The United States had requested his extradition from El Salvador in January 2021, but he was released from jail and later illegally entered Guatemala before making it to Mexico.

Salvadoran investigative news outlet El Faro reported that Canales played a critical role in an establishing an alleged pact between the MS-13 and the administration President Nayib Bukele in which the gang agreed to limit murders in exchange for reduced sentences and benefits in prison.

In December 2021, the United States accused Bukele’s government of secretly working with gangs to curb homicide numbers. 

Osiris Luna Meza, the vice minister of justice and director of the prison system, and Carlos Amilcar Marroquín, head of a major social welfare agency, were sanctioned by the Department of Treasury for holding prison meetings with gang leaders and providing ‘financial incentives.’ 

Bukele denied the claims, at the time tweeting: ‘How can they put out such an obvious lie without anybody questioning it?’

Source: | This article originally belongs to Daily Mail

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