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January 29, 2020Boston, MA, United StatesHuman Rights Violators, Enforcement and Removal

ICE removes suspected human rights violator to Guatemala

Guatemalan national wanted for participating in wartime sexual violence of indigenous women removed to Guatemala
Photo credit: HSI Guatemala

BOSTON – A Guatemalan national wanted for his role in sexual violence targeting indigenous women in the 1980s, was removed to his native country by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers Jan. 29. His removal follows a federal conviction in December 2019, for illegally reentering the United States.

Francisco Cuxum Alvarado, aka Francisco Cuxun-Alvarado, 64, who had been held in federal custody since his indictment in May 2019, pleaded guilty to one count of illegal reentry into the United States in September 2019, and was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani to six months in prison. Cuxum Alvarado was apprehended as a result of the work of ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents and officers with ERO.

“Today, human rights violators have been put on notice. There is no safe haven for you in the United States.” said Jason Molina, acting special agent in charge, HSI Boston. “Thanks to the relentless teamwork of HSI and ERO professionals, criminal researchers, attorneys, historians, and local police, the people of Guatemala have been given the opportunity to restore a measure of justice to a tragic chapter of their recent history. Cuxum-Alvarado can now be held accountable for his alleged crimes by those who most deserve the opportunity to decide his fate. The people of Guatemala working through their own sovereign system of justice.”

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, as did the Waltham Police Department.

According to court documents, beginning in the early 1980s, Guatemalan armed forces, assisted by civilian militias known as the Civil Defense Patrols (PACs), perpetrated a series of massacres against the indigenous Maya Achí people of Rio Negro, in and around the municipality of Rabinal, in Guatemala. More than 400 Maya Achí people were killed in these massacres and hundreds of others were forcibly removed from their homes. In 1998, Cuxum Alvarado was named as a suspect in the March 13, 1982, massacre of 177 individuals, including 107 children at Cerro Pacoxom.

In addition to the massacres, military and PAC members perpetrated sexual violence against Maya Achí women during the 1980s. In 2018, the Guatemalan government charged Cuxum Alvarado with crimes against humanity for participating in the wartime sexual violence against Maya Achí women in and around Rabinal.

On May 30, 2019, Cuxum Alvarado was located in Waltham, Massachusetts, and arrested.

This case was developed and supported by ICE’s HRVWCC. 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 450 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 1030 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States. Additionally, ICE has facilitated the departure of an additional 160 such individuals from the United States.

Currently, HSI has more than 180 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,640 leads and removal cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. Since 2003, The HRVWCC has issued more than 76,000 lookouts for individuals from more than 110 countries and stopped over 315 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.