NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Reputed gang member Juan Elias Garcia, wanted for the execution style murders of 19-year-old Vanessa Argueta and her 2-year-old son Diego Torres on Long Island in February 2010, voluntarily returned to the United States Friday to face charges.
Garcia turned himself in to police in Nicaragua on Thursday, just one day after he was added to the FBI’s “10 Most Wanted Fugitives” list, 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reported.
Special Agents of the FBI arrested Garcia upon his arrival in the United States Friday. Garcia was placed on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list on March 26, 2014.
Garcia was the last of four MS-13 gang members sought in the February 2010 execution-style killings of his 19-year-old girlfriend, Vanessa Argueta, and her 2-year-old son, Diego Torres, officials said.
Garcia asked Argueta to dinner, but instead lured her and the toddler into a wooded area in Central Islip, where they were shot to death by two other gang members, the FBI said. Argueta was shot in the head and chest, and when the child clung to Garcia’s leg, the toddler was shot in the head as well, officials said.
The killings happened after Garcia was allegedly threatened by rival gang members to whom Argueta had ties, the FBI said.
“While crime and gang-related activity often goes hand in hand, the execution-style murders of Vanessa and her 2-year-old son is a new low even for MS-13,” said George Venizelos, head of the FBI’s New York office.
“We hope his capture brings some measure of consolation to the Argueta and Torres families,” said United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Loretta E. Lynch said.
Sources said Garcia was hiding out in Nicaragua and apparently felt that he would be hunted down or killed after the FBI put him on the list and offered a $100,000 reward for his capture, Rivera reported.
Dominic Barone, who was Suffolk County’s chief of detectives at the time of the shooting, hailed Garcia’s capture.
“I’m not surprised that he’s fearful for his own life because the MS-13 members themselves were just very disturbed themselves about this killing of a toddler,” Barone told Rivera.
One person, who pleaded guilty to the murders, and another, who was convicted by a jury, are awaiting sentencing. A third person charged in connection with the murders was sentenced to three terms of life in prison, plus 60 years.
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