Federal Agents Arrest a Former Guatemalan Soldier Charged With Massacring Civilians

1/29/2017

Advancing an investigation that has spanned two continents and three decades, U.S. federal agents have arrested a Guatemalan immigrant suspected of involvement in the massacre of about 250 villagers in 1982 during Guatemala’s civil war.

Jose Mardoqueo Ortiz Morales, 54, was arrested at his home in Hyattsville, Maryland, last Friday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Tuesday. Ortiz is a legal permanent resident of the United States who worked in a mail room at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, authorities said. He faces charges in U.S. immigration court and potential deportation to Guatemala to stand trial for one of the worst massacres in Latin American history, the officials said.

Ortiz becomes the fifth suspect arrested in the United States for the slaughter of men, women and children in the hamlet of Dos Erres in northern Guatemala more than three decades ago. Five veterans of an elite Guatemalan commando force known as the “kaibiles” have been convicted by courts in Guatemala on charges arising from massacre. But six others have eluded capture, some of them aided by Guatemalan security forces whose power has impeded the quest for justice, according to Guatemalan and U.S. investigators.

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