Salvadoran gang member suspected in assassination caught at O.C. car dealership

Murder suspect captured

Suspected killer Javier Arnoldo Ceron Gomez arrives in El Salvador.

A member of the violent street gang MS-13, wanted in his native El Salvador for allegedly assassinating a government prosecutor, was captured working at a Santa Ana car dealership.

Authorities announced his arrest Friday and said he had been sent back to El Salvador this morning to face charges of aggravated homicide.

Officials allege that Javier Arnoldo Ceron Gomez, 21, was one of several Mara Salvatrucha gang members involved in the March slaying of Andres Ernesto Oliva Tejada, a top homicide prosecutor for the Salvadoran attorney general’s office. Oliva was shot multiple times by assailants on motorcycles while he parked his car.

After learning that Gomez may be living with relatives, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and U.S. marshals began surveillance on several places earlier this year.


Investigators tracked him to a Santa Ana car dealership where he worked washing cars and took him into custody without incident June 11, agents said.

“This was an unconscionable, cowardly act and we’ve worked tirelessly with our law enforcement partners here and in El Salvador to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice,” said ICE Director Sarah Saldaña.

“Violent criminals who believe they can evade justice by fleeing to the U.S. should be on notice: They will find no refuge here.”

Escorted by Immigration and Customs agents, Ceron was taken on a charter flight from Mesa, Ariz., to San Salvador’s airport Friday.


MS-13, founded in Los Angeles by immigrants from El Salvador, has burgeoned into an international criminal organization.

Ceron entered the U.S. illegally in April. Prosecutors got a judge to allow his deportation. He is the second suspect in the assassination to be captured on U.S. soil.

In June the Border Patrol near Laredo, Texas, took Miguel Orellana-Hernandez into custody. He too was returned to El Salvador.

“This is a direct and clear message to criminals of all kinds: No matter where they try to hide, we will always capture them and bring them to justice,” El Salvadoran Atty. Gen. Luis Antonio Martinez said in a statement. “We will apply the full weight of the law, because we owe it to all of the Salvadoran workers and victims.”


 To Follow Southern California crime @lacrimes

Get our Essential California newsletter