BOSTON – A Guatemalan national wanted for his role in the 1980s massacre of indigenous Guatemalans was charged with illegal re-entry into the United States in federal court in Boston on May 29. He was recently apprehended by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officials in Boston.
Francisco Cuxum Alvarado, a/k/a Francisco Cuxun-Alvarado, 64, was indicted on one count of illegal reentry into the United States and detained following arraignment on that charge.
The case was investigated by HSI Boston’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Investigative Group, ERO Boston’s Fugitive Operations Unit and ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC). The HSI Attaché in Guatemala City, Guatemala, and ERO’s Fugitive Operations Division assisted in the investigation.
“Mr. Cuxum Alvarado is in Massachusetts illegally, evading accountability for human rights violations in Guatemala,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling while announcing the details of the case in Boston. “While many immigrants come to this country seeking a better life, Mr. Cuxum Alvarado came here illegally, to escape a dark, criminal past. This case highlights the important work of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations in identifying and removing war criminals, human rights violators, and other dangerous aliens who illegally seek a safe haven in the United States.”
According to court documents, beginning in the early 1980s, there were a series of attacks committed against the indigenous Maya Achi people of Rio Negro, in and around the municipality of Rabinal, in Guatemala. During these massacres Guatemalan armed forces, assisted by civilian militias known as the Civil Defense Patrols (PACs), forcibly removed the Maya Achi from Rio Negro and attacked and killed hundreds of them. More than 400 Maya Achi people were killed in the Rio Negro massacres and hundreds of others were forcibly removed from their homes. In addition to the murders, there were mass sexual assaults carried out against Achi-Mayan women.
It is alleged that Cuxum Alvarado was a member of the PAC in Rabinal, and in 1998, was named as a suspect in the March 13, 1982, massacre of women and children at Cerro Pacoxom. In 2018, the Guatemalan government charged Cuxum Alvarado with crimes against humanity for participating in the mass sexual assault of Maya Achi women in and around Rabinal. In connection with the charges, the Guatemalan government obtained an INTERPOL Red Notice for Cuxum Alvarado’s arrest, which is a request to law enforcement agencies worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest suspects pending extradition to the jurisdiction in which they are charged. Cuxum Alvarado will be subject to extradition to Guatemala.
On April 30, 2019, Cuxum Alvarado was located in Waltham and arrested. During a subsequent interview with law enforcement, Cuxum Alvarado admitted that he was a member of the Rabinal PAC. At the time of his arrest, Cuxum Alvarado was unlawfully in the United States. He previously unlawfully entered the country in March 2004 in Arizona, and was ordered to be removed.
The re-entry charge provides for a sentence of up to two years in prison, one year of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The defendant will be subject to removal from the U.S. upon completion of any sentence imposed. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
This case was developed and supported by ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center and investigated by HSI Boston’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Investigative Group and ERO Boston’s Fugitive Operations Unit. The Waltham Police Department and the HSI Attaché in Guatemala City, Guatemala assisted in the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney George P. Varghese of Lelling’s National Security Unit is prosecuting the case.
Established in 2009, ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center furthers ICE’s efforts to identify, locate and prosecute human rights abusers in the United States, including those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, female genital mutilation and the use or recruitment of child soldiers. The HRVWCC 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.
Since 2003, ICE has arrested more than 415 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders against and physically removed 908 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States. Additionally, ICE has facilitated the departure of an additional 122 such individuals from the United States.
Currently, HSI has more than 155 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,750 leads and removal cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. Since 2003, The HRVWCC has issued more than 75,000 lookouts for individuals from more than 110 countries and stopped over 300 human rights violators and war crimes suspects from entering the U.S.
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 at: 1-866-DHS-2423 (1-866-347-2423). Callers may remain anonymous.