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Human Rights Violators

Former Guatemalan special forces soldier indicted for making false statements on immigration forms regarding 1982 massacre of Guatemalan villagers

MIAMI - A former Guatemalan special forces soldier was indicted today by a federal grand jury in Palm Beach County, Fla., for lying on his naturalization application about his participation in a 1982 massacre at a Guatemalan village known as Dos Erres as a result of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) efforts and commitment to deny human rights abusers and war criminals safe haven in the United States.

The one-count indictment charges Gilberto Jordan, 54, of Delray Beach, Fla., with unlawful procurement of U.S. citizenship. If convicted, Jordan faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and revocation of his U.S. citizenship. His arraignment is scheduled for May 26.

"Those who commit human rights abuses abroad cannot subvert U.S. immigration laws in order to take shelter in the United States," said Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for ICE John T. Morton. "We are firmly committed to denying human rights abusers entrance into this country, weeding out those that are already here, and will enforce this U.S. government policy of no safe haven for human rights violators."

On May 5, Jordan was previously arrested by ICE special agents in West Palm Beach and charged via a criminal complaint. The indictment alleges that in approximately November 1982, a Guatemalan guerrilla group ambushed a military convoy near Dos Erres, 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 approximately December 1982 to the village of Dos Erres to search for the stolen rifles and find suspected guerillas. According to the indictment, members of the special patrol entered Dos Erres on or about Dec. 7, 1982. Another group of approximately 40 Kaibiles allegedly established a perimeter around the town to prevent anyone from entering or escaping. Members of the special patrol allegedly interrogated the villagers, searched their homes, and separated the men from the women and children.

The indictment alleges that the special patrol then proceeded to systematically murder the men, women and children at Dos Erres by, among other things, hitting them in the head with a hammer and then throwing them into the village well. Members of the special patrol also allegedly raped many of the women and girls at Dos Erres before killing them. According to the indictment, Jordan participated in the crimes committed at Dos Erres, including murder.

According to the previously filed criminal complaint, a Guatemalan judge appointed an Argentinean forensic anthropology team approximately 12 years after the Dos Erres massacre to exhume the corpses at the village. This forensic team uncovered approximately 162 skeletal remains from the village well, whose deaths were presumed to have occurred in December 1982 as a result of traumatic injuries and gunshot wounds.

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

The case was investigated by ICE's Office of Investigations in West Palm Beach and ICE's Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit. The Criminal Division's Office of International Affairs as well as ICE's Offices of International Affairs provided assistance in this matter.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Hillary Davidson and Brian Skaret of the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP) of the Criminal Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorney A. Marie Villafaña of the Southern District of Florida.

ICE's Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit's (HRVWCU) mission is to deny human rights violators and war criminals safe haven in the United States using all of its legal authorities. HRVWCU at ICE headquarters provides programmatic oversight over ICE investigations involving foreign war criminals, human rights violators, and those who within ICE's jurisdiction, violate laws that fuel widespread overseas human rights abuses and conflicts. These include investigations relating to torture, genocide, war crimes and the recruitment of child soldiers; and immigration and visa fraud where the underlying offense is based on substantive human rights abuses and war crimes.

As further evidence of ICE's commitment to deny human rights violators safe haven in the United States, ICE created and staffed the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center in January of 2009, which co-locates subject matter experts from the ICE Office of Investigations, Office of Intelligence, Office of International Affairs, and the Office of the Principle Legal Advisor. The HRVWCC has three distinct missions: 1) Through proactive efforts, the center prevents human rights abusers and war criminals from entering the United States or being granted immigration benefits; 2) The center provides direct case support to ongoing criminal and administrative investigations and court proceedings; and 3) The center generates actionable leads which are be disseminated to ICE Special Agent in Charge (SAC) and attaché offices for investigation.

The Criminal Division announced the formation of HRSP on March 30, 2010, as part of the U.S. government's efforts to bring human rights violators to justice and deny those violators safe haven in the United States. The new section represents a merger of the Criminal Division's Domestic Security Section (DSS) and the Office of Special Investigations (OSI).

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