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Human Rights Violators
11/29/2011

Massachusetts man charged with concealing past ties to El Salvadoran military to remain in US

Reports allege that certain human rights abuses were committed by troops directly under his command

BOSTON — A Massachusetts man was charged today in federal court with making false statements on immigration forms and committing perjury in order to remain in the United States. This case is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Boston.

Inocente Orlando Montano, 69, of Everett, Mass., was charged with one count of making false statements on an immigration application and one count of perjury.

U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, District of Massachusetts; and Bruce M. Foucart, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Boston, made the announcement today.

According to court documents, the government alleges that Montano, a citizen of El Salvador, received military training and served as an officer in the military of El Salvador from 1979 through 1991, a period of civil war in El Salvador. Montano also allegedly served as El Salvador's vice-minister for public security from 1989 to 1992.

Several reports published in the early 1990s documented human rights violations committed by the Salvadoran military during the civil war, including torture, arbitrary detention, extrajudicial killings and disappearances. Such reports allege that certain human rights abuses were committed by troops directly under Montano's command. In 1994, Montano retired from the military, and at some point thereafter left El Salvador and eventually came to Massachusetts.

The document filed today also cites a United Nations Truth Commission Report finding that there was evidence that Montano colluded with other Salvadoran military officers to issue an order that resulted in the murder of six Jesuit priests, an employee of the priests, and the employee's daughter.

In or about 2002, Montano was present in the United States and, on several occasions thereafter, applied for and received temporary protected status, a benefit the U.S. government extends to certain foreign nationals, permitting them to remain in the United States if they are unable to safely return to their home country because of ongoing armed conflict, the temporary effects of an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.

To be eligible for temporary protected status, a foreign national must submit to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security an application which requires, among other things, the applicant to reveal if he has ever received military training or served in the military.

Aliens who ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion are ineligible for temporary protected status .

The document specifically charges that Montano, in 2008, submitted a temporary protected status application in which he falsely denied that he ever "served in, been a member of, assisted in, or participated in any military unit, paramilitary unit, police unit;" had "been a member of, assisted in, or participated in any group, unit, or organization of any kind in which you or other persons used any type of weapon against any person or threatened to do so;" or had ever "received any type of military, paramilitary, or weapons training."

Montano faces a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on each count.

ICE HSI places a high priority on targeting alleged human rights abusers through its Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center. The center was established in 2009 to further ICE HSI efforts to identify, track and prosecute human rights abusers. The center leverages the expertise of a select group of agents, lawyers, intelligence and research specialists, historians and analysts who direct the agency's broader enforcement efforts against these offenders.

Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to call the ICE tip line at1-866-DHS-2-ICE or complete the agency's online tip form.

Since fiscal year 2004, ICE has arrested more than 200 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE has obtained deportation orders for and physically removed more than 400 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States.

ICE HSI is pursuing more than 1,900 leads and removal cases involving suspected human rights violators from approximately 95 different countries. These cases are predominantly focused on Central and South America, Haiti, the former Yugoslavia and Africa. They represent cases in various stages of investigation, prosecution or removal proceedings.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John A. Capin and Donald L. Cabell.