A former member of the Guatemalan army wanted for participating in the Dos Erres massacre nearly four decades ago, was removed Tuesday by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) in Miami.
Gilberto Jordan, 64, arrived in Guatemala escorted by ERO officers on board an ICE Air Operations charter removal flight. Upon their arrival, Jordan was immediately turned over to Guatemalan law enforcement officials.
Guatemalan authorities allege Jordan was among some 20 members of an elite Guatemalan army unit called the Kaibiles who murdered more than 200 unarmed men, women and children in the village of Las Dos Erres in December 1982. The Kaibiles had gone to the remote Guatemalan settlement seeking to locate left-wing insurgents allegedly responsible for the ambush of an army convoy nearby that resulted in the theft of more than 20 military rifles. After arriving in the village, the Kaibiles began searching for the missing weapons, forcing the residents from their homes and interrogating them about the stolen guns. No rifles were recovered. The soldiers then proceeded to systematically murder the villagers, beginning with the children. The victims were bludgeoned with sledgehammers and their bodies thrown into the village’s well. Other victims were shot or strangled and many of the local girls and women were raped during the two-day ordeal.
According to court documents, when Jordan applied to become a U.S. citizen in September 1996, he falsely denied that he had ever served in the military or committed any crimes for which he had not been arrested. In July 1999, when Jordan was interviewed by a naturalization examiner in connection with his naturalization application, he falsely swore under oath that the answers he had provided earlier on his application were true and correct. Jordan was sworn in as a U.S. citizen on Aug. 25, 1999.
In May 2010, Homeland Security Investigations in Palm Beach arrested Jordan for failing to disclose his prior military service and involvement in the killings on his citizenship application. The Department of Justice’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section prosecuted this case and in July 2019 Jordan pled guilty, admitting that he had been a Kaibil in the Guatemalan military who participated in the massacre at Dos Erres. Jordan also admitted that the first person he killed at Dos Erres was a baby, whom he murdered by throwing in the village well. Jordan was sentenced in September 2010 to 10 years in federal prison and his citizenship was revoked. HSI’s investigation in this case was featured in the film Finding Oscar.
ICE has previously removed two Dos Erres massacre participants from the U.S. to Guatemala to face war crimes charges. The first, Pedro Pimentel Rios, was removed in July 2011 and on March 12, 2012, convicted for his role in the massacre, and sentenced to 6,060 years in prison. The second, Santos Lopez Alonzo, was removed to Guatemala on Aug. 10, 2016, convicted for his role in the massacre, and on Nov. 22, 2018, sentenced to 5,160 years in prison.
The enforcement efforts targeting the former Kaibiles were supported by ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC). Established in 2009 to further ICE’s efforts to identify, track and prosecute human rights abusers, 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 and/order physically removed from the United States more than 1048 known or suspected human rights violators. Additionally, ICE has facilitated the departure of an additional 167 such individuals from the United States.
Currently, HSI has more than 180 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,625 leads and removals 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. To learn more about the assistance available to victims in these cases, the public should contact ICE’s confidential victim-witness toll-free number at 1-866-872-4973.