Suspect in mom-son slayings surrenders after 1 day on FBI’s Top 10 list

Juan Elias Garcia

Juan Elias Garcia

A man suspected of killing a young New York mother and her toddler in 2010 was arrested in Nicaragua one day after making the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. On Friday, authorities said, he was returned to United States.

Juan Elias Garcia, whom the FBI calls an “enthusiastic murderer,” had a $100,000 reward on his head.

“The pressure generated by this publicity was too much for Garcia to bear, resulting in his surrender and return to the United States,” George Venizelos, FBI assistant director in charge of the New York field office, said in a statement.

Garcia surrendered Thursday to authorities at the U.S. Embassy in Managua, Nicaragua, authorities said.

Garcia voluntarily agreed to return to the United States and was arrested in New York Friday after the FBI sent a plane to transport him, the statement said. He is to appear in federal court on March 31.

“Garcia’s callous disregard for human life resulted in the senseless murder of a young mother and her helpless 2-year-old son,” Venizelos said on the agency’s website on Wednesday.

Garcia is alleged to be a member of the violent MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, gang. He was thought to be hiding in El Salvador.

The FBI said a romantic entanglement and gang rivalries lay at the heart of slayings.

Alleged victim Vanessa Argueta, 19, is said to have had a romantic relationship with Garcia, and she’s also believed to have had ties to two rival gangs: the 18th Street gang and the Latin Kings.

“They were going to kill her for disrespecting the gang,” Special Agent James Lopez said in the FBI release. “It is unacceptable for MS-13 members to have girls they associate with be involved with rival gang members.”

The FBI said that under the guise of an invitation to dinner in Central Islip, New York, Garcia coerced Argueta and her 2-year-old son into the woods. There, they were met by two co-conspirators — members of Mara Salvatrucha — and Argueta was murdered execution-style in front of her son. The FBI said the same gun was then used to kill the toddler.