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Human Rights Violators

Former Guatemalan special forces soldier pleads guilty to making false statements on immigration forms regarding 1982 massacre of Guatemalan villagers

MIAMI - Gilberto Jordan, 54, a former Guatemalan special forces soldier, pleaded guilty today in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to a federal charge of unlawfully procuring his U.S. citizenship and admitting that he lied on his naturalization application about his participation in a 1982 massacre at a Guatemalan village known as Dos Erres. Today's plea follows an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents.

Jordan, of Delray Beach, Fla., entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch. Jordan was remanded into custody by Judge Zloch following the plea hearing. Jordan faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and judicial revocation of his naturalized citizenship. He will be sentenced on Sept. 17.

ICE Director John Morton said, "ICE will not turn a blind eye on perpetrators of crimes against humanity who seek safe haven in the United States. ICE's HSI special agents will continue to aggressively work with our federal partners to identify and bring human rights abusers to justice and hold them accountable for their egregious crimes."

According to the indictment and court documents, in approximately November 1982, a Guatemalan guerrilla group ambushed a military convoy near Dos Erres, Guatemala, killing soldiers and taking a number of rifles. In response, a patrol of approximately 20 Guatemalan special forces soldiers, known as "Kaibiles," including Jordan, were deployed in December 1982 to the village of Dos Erres to search for the stolen rifles and find suspected guerrillas. According to court documents, on or about Dec. 7, 1982, Jordan and the special patrol entered Dos Erres with the support of approximately 40 additional Kaibiles, who created a security perimeter around the village so that no one could escape. The members of the special patrol searched all of the houses for the missing weapons, forced the villagers from their homes, and separated the women and children from the men.

Court documents further state that members of the special patrol then proceeded to systematically kill the men, women and children at Dos Erres by, among other methods, hitting them in the head with a sledgehammer and then pushing them into the village well. According to court documents, members of the special patrol also forcibly raped many of the women and girls at Dos Erres before killing them. Approximately 162 skeletal remains were later exhumed from the village well.

As part of his plea, Jordan admitted that he had been a Kaibil in the Guatemalan military who participated in the massacre at Dos Erres. Jordan also admitted that the first person he killed at Dos Erres was a baby, whom Jordan murdered by throwing in the well.

According to court documents, when Jordan applied to become a U.S. citizen in September 1996, he falsely denied that he had ever served in the military or committed any crimes for which he had not been arrested. In July 1999, when Jordan was interviewed by a naturalization examiner in connection with his naturalization application, he falsely swore under oath that the answers he had earlier provided on his application were true and correct. Jordan was sworn in as a U.S. citizen on Aug. 25, 1999.

The case was investigated by ICE HSI special agents in West Palm Beach, ICE's Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit and ICE's Office of International Affairs. The Criminal Division's Office of International Affairs provided assistance. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Hillary Davidson and Brian Skaret of the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and Assistant U.S. Attorney A. Marie Villafaña of the Southern District of Florida.

ICE's Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit places a high priority in investigating human rights violators, including those who have participated in war crimes and acts of genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, and violations of religious freedom, who frequently seek to evade justice by seeking shelter in the United States. These individuals may assume fraudulent identities to enter the country, seeking to blend into communities inside the U.S.

Learn more about the ICE Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit and recent successful investigations.