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Human Rights Violators

Former Guatemalan special forces soldier sentenced to 10 years in prison

MIAMI - Following an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Gilberto Jordan, 54, a former Guatemalan special forces soldier, was sentenced today to 120 months in prison and revocation of his U.S. citizenship for unlawfully procuring his U.S. citizenship by lying about his participation in a 1982 massacre at a Guatemalan village known as Dos Erres.

Jordan, of Delray Beach, Fla., pleaded guilty on Jul. 7 to the federal charge before U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch in the Southern District of Florida, where he was also sentenced today by Judge Zloch. After Jordan completes his criminal sentence he will be remanded to ICE custody and placed into removal proceedings.

ICE Director John Morton said, "Today's sentence sends a message to those human rights violators worldwide. We will not turn a blind eye on the perpetrators of such egregious crimes. ICE's Homeland Security Investigations agents will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that human rights violators cannot seek safe haven in the United States."

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.

At the hearing on his guilty 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.

"Gilberto Jordan obtained the privilege of U.S. citizenship by lying about his prior military service and concealing his brutal, murderous participation in the Dos Erres massacre," said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer. "Over the last 30 years, the Department of Justice has strived to ensure that human rights violators who flee to the United States are found, that their reprehensible past actions are proved, and that they are stripped of their ill-gotten U.S. citizenship. This case and others like it demonstrate that such perpetrators will not be allowed to make this country their home."

"The Southern District of Florida is home to many hardworking immigrants who have fled political persecution," said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer. "Today's sentencing and the judge's decision to impose the statutory maximum sentence make clear that perpetrators of human rights abuses cannot hide among us and blend in with their victims. They will be found, prosecuted, and punished."

The case was investigated by ICE HSI in West Palm Beach, ICE's Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit and ICE's Office of International Affairs. The Department of Justice Criminal Division's Office of International Affairs also 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.