Human rights violators, including those who have participated in war crimes and acts of genocide, torture, extrajudicial killing, violations of religious freedom, and other acts of persecution, frequently seek to evade justice by seeking shelter in the United States. These individuals will frequently assume fraudulent identities to enter the country, seeking to blend into American society and communities. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) places a high priority on targeting these serious offenders through its Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center. The following are examples of recent success stories in targeting human rights violators.
Significant Success Stories
Bosnian War Criminal Cleared for Extradition
On April 2, 2013, United States District Court Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of New York found Sulejman Mujagic extraditable pursuant to an official request from the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mujagic, 50, of Utica, NY, has been charged in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the unlawful killing of the enemy, and unlawful wounding and torture of a prisoner of war. The charges stem from his actions during a battle March 6, 1995, where he allegedly murdered a captured soldier and tortured another captured soldier both who were fighting on behalf of the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mujagic, a lawful permanent resident of the United States, moved to Utica in July 1997. He was arrested by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents and task force partners on November 28, 2012 and ordered held in custody pending the outcome of the extradition hearing. The judge's decision will now be delivered to the State Department for a final determination as to Mujagic's return to Bosnia and Herzegovina to face charges.
A Rwandan Woman Was Sentenced Today in Federal Court in Connection With Immigration Fraud
Prudence Kantengwa, a/k/a Prudentienne, 47, of Boston, was sentenced to 21 months in prison for immigration fraud, perjury in immigration court and obstruction of justice. The conviction was the result of a lengthy investigation by ICE's HSI.
The case arose out of the conflict in Rwanda in which tensions between rival Tutsi and Hutu peoples burst into a government-sponsored genocide in which as many as 900,000 Rwandans, most of whom were of Tutsi origin, perished. The charges against Kantengwa stemmed from lies she told about her membership in the Hutu-dominated party in Rwanda, her husband's role as the director of Rwanda's internal security service, and her knowledge of the existence of a genocidal roadblock. The roadblock was erected in front of the residence where she spent half the period of the genocide in the company of individuals subsequently convicted of genocide in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
Kantengwa was convicted of using a visa she fraudulently obtained to enter the United States. She obtained that visa by providing false information about her background on a questionnaire designed by the State Department to identify individuals involved in or associated with the genocidal government in Rwanda. Kantengwa was also convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with her testimony in immigration court in order to remain in the United States.
A Manchester, N.H., Woman Was Convicted by a Federal Jury of Two Counts of Procuring Citizenship Unlawfully
A federal jury in New Hampshire found that Beatrice Munyenyezi, 43, obtained her U.S. citizenship unlawfully after fleeing her home country of Rwanda by misrepresenting material facts to U.S. immigration authorities both before and after she arrived in the United States. Munyenyezi, who was charged in June 2010, faces up to 10 years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine on each count. Munyenyezi's U.S. citizenship was revoked immediately upon conviction. She also faces removal proceedings after serving the sentence imposed by the judge. Sentencing is scheduled for later this year. The guilty plea is the result of an extensive investigation by ICE's HSI.
Former Salvadoran Military Officer Pleads Guilty to Concealing Information From US Government
Inocente Orlando Montano, 70, of Everett, Mass., pleaded guilty September of 2012 before U.S. District Court in Boston, Mass. to three counts of immigration fraud and three counts of perjury. He currently awaits sentencing. Had the case proceeded to trial, the evidence would have proved that Montano, a citizen of El Salvador, served as an officer in the military of El Salvador for 30 years, including during the period of El Salvador's civil war, from 1979 through 1991. Montano also served as El Salvador's vice minister for public security from 1989 to 1992. The government alleges that the Salvadoran military committed various human rights violations during the civil war, including torture, arbitrary detention, extrajudicial killings and disappearances according to several reports published in the early 1990s. These 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, eventually coming to Massachusetts.
Former Guatemalan Military Officer Extradited to the US From Canada to Face Immigration Fraud Charges
Jorge SOSA Orantes was extradited from Canada September of 2012 to face allegations of naturalization fraud. SOSA failed to disclose his military service in the Guatemalan military when filing applications with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). SOSA was a lieutenant in a military unit that committed the massacre of 201 people in the village of Dos Erres in 1982. In March of 2012, a fellow soldier, Pedro PIMENTEL Rios was convicted on charges for his involvement in the massacre in Guatemalan court and was sentenced to 6,060 years in prison. If convicted, SOSA would serve a prison sentence in the US after which he would most likely be removed to Guatemala to face charges related to the Dos Erres Massacre.
Former Bosnian-Serb Police Commander Removed
Dejan Radojkovic, a former Bosnian-Serb police commander wanted in his native country for his participation in crimes related to the July 1995 genocide at Srebrenica, was deported by ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers in May 2012. The former Las Vegas resident was turned over to authorities of the Bosnian State Court's War Crimes Chamber. He reportedly played a role in crimes that took place during July 1995 when Bosnian Serb forces overran a contingent of United Nations peacekeepers. This event drove tens of thousands of Bosnian-Muslim civilians from the Srebrenica safe area and resulted in the execution of more than 7,000 Bosnian-Muslim men and boys. Authorities allege Radojkovic used his position as a platoon commander in the Special Police Brigade to aid in carrying out these crimes. Specifically, prosecutors charge that Radojkovic and his platoon rounded up nearly 200 Bosnian-Muslim men in the Konjevic Polje region, and then, assisted in their transfer to locations where they were executed.
Radojkovic entered the United States in 1999. After a joint investigation, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents and Bosnian authorities linked Radojkovic to possible war crimes. He was arrested by HSI special agents at his Las Vegas residence in January 2009. Ten months later, an immigration judge ordered Radojkovic deported on multiple grounds, including a finding that he "ordered…and/or otherwise participated in extrajudicial killing."
Former ICE Subject Sentenced to 6,060 Years in Prison in Guatemala
In March 2012, a Guatemalan Court sentenced Pedro Pimentel Rios to more than 6,000 years in prison for his role in the deaths of 201 villagers at Dos Erres in December 1982. Rios was a member of the Guatemalan Army's Special Forces known as the Kaibiles. This largely symbolic sentence represents the maximum sentence possible under Guatemalan law for each of the 201 murders, plus an additional 30 years for his participation in crimes against humanity.
In 2009, HSI special agents arrested Pimentel Rios at his residence in Orange County, Calif., and he was subsequently placed in immigration removal proceedings in Los Angeles. He was ruled deportable based upon his participation in the extrajudicial killings at Dos Erres. The judge's ruling capped an intensive legal effort by ICE to gain Pimentel Rios' removal from the United States based on his participation in the Dos Erres massacre. In July 2011, ERO officers successfully removed Pedro Pimentel Rios from the United States to Guatemala City, where he was taken into custody by Guatemalan judicial authorities. To date, Pimentel Rios is one of four former Kaibiles linked to the massacre found residing in the United States.
Former El Salvadoran Officer Ordered Removed
In March 2012, ERO officers removed former El Salvadoran military officer Carlos Napoleón Medina-Garay to San Salvador, El Salvador. The United Nations (UN) alleges that he committed human rights violations.
A 1993 UN Security Council report accuses Medina-Garay of committing human rights violations while serving as a captain in the El Salvadoran military. According to the report, beginning March 3, 1981, Medina-Garay and the soldiers under his command were part of a campaign in northern El Junquillo canton, Morazán Department, El Salvador to execute men, women and children. The commission found that Medina-Garay ordered the executions.
On Jan. 17, 2012, ICE issued a notice to appear in immigration court, charging that Medina-Garay was inadmissible to the United States. He was taken into custody by ERO officers and HSI special agents at his home in Woodbridge, Va., that same day.
Medina-Garay's various applications for benefits under the Immigration and Nationalization Act were denied. His most recent application was voluntarily withdrawn and an immigration judge ordered him to leave the United States.
HSI special agents led the investigation that subsequently led to his removal by ERO officers in Washington, D.C. ICE's Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center, the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor Human Rights Law Section and HSI Attaché El Salvador supported the investigation.
Liberian Human Rights Violator Removed
In February 2012, George Saigbe Boley, formerly of Hilton, N.Y., was ordered removed to Monrovia, Liberia. This was the first removal order obtained by ICE under the authorities of the Child Soldiers Accountability Act of 2008. The Act outlines that the recruitment and use of child soldiers is grounds for inadmissibility into the United States. Boley, the leader of the Liberia Peace Council during the Liberian Civil War, was found to have recruited and used child soldiers in military operations undertaken by the council. Boley was also found to have engaged in serious human rights abuses against the civilian population. Council members committed rape and murder against civilians at various times during the conflict. ERO officers successfully removed Boley to Liberia in March 2012.
Rwandan Deported to Serve Sentence for Role in 1994 Genocide
In December 2011, Marie Claire Mukeshimana was removed by ERO officers to her native Rwanda. According to an arrest warrant issued by Rwanda's Gacaca Court, which can exercise jurisdiction over events from the 1994 genocide, Mukeshimana was responsible for the death of a child in the town of Save, Rwanda. Following her conviction by the Gacaca Court, she fled the country.
In 2010, Mukeshimana was apprehended attempting to enter the United States on a travel visa. ICE then placed her in removal proceedings. In June 2011, an immigration judge ordered her removed from the United States to Rwanda, a decision which was upheld by the Board of Immigration Appeals in November 2011. Mukeshimana was then removed to Kigali, Rwanda, where ICE turned her over to the custody of the Rwandan National Police.
Argentinean Torture Suspect Removed
In December 2010, ERO officers escorted Juan Miguel Mendez to Buenos Aires where he was transferred to the custody of the Argentinean government.
In June 2009, ICE special agents arrested Mendez, a former federal Argentine police official, in northern Virginia after he was found living without lawful status in the United States. In March 2006, a magistrate in Buenos Aires, Argentina, issued an arrest warrant for Mendez for his involvement in torture, disappearances and extrajudicial killings in connection with at least two clandestine detention centers that operated in Buenos Aires during the so-called "Dirty War."
Mendez was allegedly involved with the detention, torture and disappearance of detainees from two clandestine detention facilities between 1976 and 1979. During this period in Argentina, human rights related organizations estimate that as many as 30,000 suspected opponents of the former ruling military junta were murdered or otherwise disappeared. In November 2009, Mendez was ordered removed from the United States. He tried to appeal that decision, but a judge denied his request.
Maximum Sentence of Former Guatemalan Soldier Upheld
In September 2010, Gilberto Jordan, a formerly naturalized United States citizen, received the statutory maximum 10-year prison sentence for fraudulently obtaining his U.S. citizenship. As part of the sentence, he was stripped of this citizenship. In July 2011, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals denied an appeal by Jordan to have his prison sentence reduced.
In the early 1980s, Jordan was a member of an elite Guatemalan Army Special Forces unit known as the Kaibiles. In December 1982, Jordan was one of 20 Kaibiles who entered the remote Guatemalan village of Dos Erres where they assaulted, raped and murdered at least 170 men, women and children over a two-day period. In May 2010, Jordan was arrested by HSI special agents in West Palm Beach, Fla., following an 18-month investigation into his membership in the Guatemalan Army and his direct participation in war crimes. Following his arrest, Jordan pleaded guilty to one count of unlawfully procuring naturalized citizenship. Pursuant to his admission of guilt, Jordan acknowledged his service in the Kaibiles and his personal involvement in committing the first murder of the Dos Erres massacre by throwing a baby into a well.
Former Cape Verdean Prison Warden Pleads Guilty
ICE successfully removed Carlos de Graca Lopes, a national of Cape Verde, back to his native country in September 2010 after he completed a three-year prison sentence. Lopes was formerly a prison warden in Cape Verde, but was dismissed from his position in 2006 after allegations surfaced that he abused and tortured prisoners. An indictment was issued in Cape Verde for multiple criminal acts, including torture. At that point, Lopes fraudulently obtained a visa and fled to the United States.
HSI special agents in Brockton, Mass., apprehended Lopes and placed him into removal proceedings. He was criminally charged and subsequently pleaded guilty to 13 counts of visa fraud, false statements and perjury. In handing Lopes a 36-month prison sentence, the Chief Judge of the Federal District Court of Massachusetts specifically reflected that, "It is very important to send the message that the United States will not be a safe or cost-free haven for those who are alleged to have abused human rights."
Suspected Bosnian War Criminal Removed
In April 2010, ICE effected the removal of Marko Boskic back to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he was subsequently taken into custody by officials from the Office of the Prosecutor for the Bosnian State Court War Crimes Chamber. In July 2006, Boskic was convicted of two counts of visa fraud in Federal District Court in Boston.
Boskic was the target of an ICE-led investigation pertaining to his direct involvement in the killings of several hundred Bosnian Muslim men who were murdered on July 16, 1995, at a communal farm in Branjevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. This crime is connected to the wider executions of more than 7,000 men and boys that occurred following the capture of the UN designated safe-area of Srebrenica on July 10, 1995, by military forces under the command of General Ratko Mladic.
Working in close cooperation with investigators from the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Boston, Mass., HSI and FBI agents were able to catalog his service in the notorious 10th Sabotage Detachment of the Army of the Republika Srpska. Following his apprehension in Boston, Boskic admitted to both his military service with this unit and that he was personally responsible for the murders of several dozen prisoners at the Branjevo Farm on the July 16. He was convicted in July 2006 and sentenced to 63 months in prison.
Peruvian Human Rights Violator Extradited from the United States
On July 14, 2011, former Peruvian Army Major Ricardo Telmo Hurtado-Hurtado was extradited back to Lima, Peru where he is charged for his role in the August 1985 Accomarca Massacre. Hurtado was the target of an ICE investigation that began in late 2006. The agency received information from Interpol officials in Lima that indicated he was involved in significant human rights violations and was possibly hiding in the United States.
In August 1985, while serving as a lieutenant in the Peruvian Army, Hurtado ordered soldiers under his command to gather and kill 69 men, women, and children from a remote mountain village in Accomarca, Peru. When word of this massacre become public and an investigation was undertaken, he personally led back a smaller group of soldiers and proceeded to kill seven additional people who either witnessed or survived the initial crime. He was never jailed, and in 1995 was pardoned as part of a larger grant of amnesty by the Peruvian government. In 2002, the Peruvian Supreme Court rescinded this amnesty grant after finding it to be unconstitutional. Following this development, Hurtado departed Peru.
The investigation by ICE began in late 2006 after receiving information from INTERPOL officials indicating Hurtado may possibly be hiding in the United States. It was determined, after leaving Peru, he entered the United States by fraudulently obtaining a visitor (B-2) visa. After his visa expired, Hurtado remained in South Florida. In April 2007, he was arrested by HSI special agents and charged with visa fraud. He later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six months in prison. While serving his sentence and pending extradition from the United States, a group of survivors and other victims from Accomarca sued Hurtado for civil damages under the provisions of the Torture Victim Protection Act. A federal judge subsequently found Hurtado liable for his role in the murders and entered a $37 million dollar judgment against him. In 2012, he accepted responsibility in Peru for his role in the deaths of at least 31 villagers.
Bosnian Removed to Face War Crimes
In January 2010, following another complex multinational and multi-jurisdictional investigation undertaken by ICE, Nedjo Ikonic was removed from the United States to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he was taken into custody by officials from the Office of the Prosecutor of the Bosnian State Court War Crimes Chamber. He has since been charged by the court for his role in acts of genocide. Ikonic, formerly residing in Greenfield, Wis., previously pleaded guilty to two counts of visa fraud, and had completed a one-year prison sentence.
In September 2006, ICE opened an investigation after receiving information from investigators of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) that Ikonic, the former commander of a Special Police Company of the Republika Srpska, was present in the United States. The company that Ikonic commanded is alleged to have participated in the capture and killing of hundreds of Bosnian prisoners following the fall of the United Nations designated safe-area of Srebrenica in July 1995.
ICE, working in concert with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Milwaukee, and investigators from both the ICTY and the Office of the Prosecutor of the State Court in Sarajevo, determined that Ikonic obtained admission into the United States by fraudulently omitting his police service during the 1992-1995 conflict in Bosnia when applying to enter the United States. He subsequently pleaded guilty to two counts of visa fraud in a U.S. District Court and received a one-year prison sentence. Following the completion of that sentence, he was remanded back into ICE custody and removed.
Liberian/US Citizen Torture Suspect Sentenced to 97 years
In July 2010, a three-judge panel from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals denied all grounds of appeals related to the torture convictions of Charles Taylor, Jr. Charles Taylor, Jr. commanded the notorious Anti-Terrorism Unit that suppressed opposition to his father's regime through brutal acts of torture and murder.
In 2009, Taylor was sentenced to 97 years in prison following his earlier conviction in a Federal District Court in Miami on six counts of committing acts of torture and conspiracy to commit torture in Liberia. These convictions represent the first successful application of the federal criminal torture statute (18 USC 2340a) since it was enacted into law in 1994.
This ICE-led investigation was groundbreaking in the scope of both the international and intergovernmental agency coordination needed to ensure a successful indictment and prosecution. This included working in close partnership with the Department of Justice Domestic Security Section in Washington D.C. and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of State-Diplomatic Security Service and the Office of the Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
Rwandan Removed for Involvement in 1994 Genocide
In January 2011, ICE removed Jean-Marie Vianney Mudahinyuka, to Kigali, Rwanda, where he is wanted on charges of genocide and war crimes. Mudahinyuka illegally entered the United States in 2000 by concealing his true identity to an immigration officer. After settling in the Chicago area, six witnesses identified Mudahinyuka as a perpetrator of the Rwandan genocide, and one witness allegedly saw him commit murder and rape. He was arrested by ICE in May 2004, and later convicted of immigration fraud and assaulting a federal officer. At the completion of his sentence, he was remanded back into ERO custody and ultimately removed from the United States. Upon his arrival in Kigali, ICE turned Mudahinyuka over to the custody of the Rwandan National Police.