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.
Francisco Cuxum Alvarado, a/k/a Francisco Cuxun-Alvarado, 64, was recently apprehended by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officials in Boston.
“This case serves as proof that human rights violators cannot hide from their crimes in the United States,” explained Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge, ICE HSI Boston.
“The expert work done in this case by a dedicated team of ICE HSI and ERO agents and officers, attorneys, historians, war crimes investigators and local law enforcement demonstrates that fugitives seeking to exploit our country’s immigration system to flee from justice are in for a rude awakening.”
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 30 years after hundreds of indigenous Maya Achi people were massacred for opposing the Chixoy hydroelectric dam, Guatemala’s government has started to make reparations to the survivors. This is the story of how grassroots activists fought for justice for the murders, exploitation, and displacement caused by the Chixoy Dam. Courtesy of Greengrants and YouTube. Posted on Mar 13, 2016.)
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.
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.”
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.
(On March 13, 1982, 177 women and children from the Mayan village of Rio Negro, Guatemala, were tortured, raped, and massacred by the Guatemalan army and army-led civil patrol groups. Ten year-old Jesus Tecu Osorio witnessed and survived the murders of his family and neighbors, only to be enslaved as a servant for three years in the home of one of the killers. Jesus eventually escaped and went on to win the Reebok Human Rights Award for his tireless work to bring the guilty to justice. This short video describes the events in the context of Guatemala’s brutal civil war and the subsequent struggle of the indigenous Maya Achi people to have the truth of the genocide revealed, to mourn, and to seek justice for the victims. Courtesy of WITNESS and YouTube. Posted on Apr 4, 2013.)
Cuxum Alvarado 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 (HRVWCC), 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.
The HRVWCC is comprised of ICE HSI’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit, ICE’s Human Rights Law Section, FBI’s International Human Rights Unit and HRSP.
Established in 2009, the HRVWCC furthers the government’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.
(ICE HSI operates the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit (HRVWCU) within the National Security Investigations Division (NSID). The HRVWCU unit conducts investigations focus on human rights violations in an effort to prevent the United States from becoming a safe haven to those individuals who engage in the commission of war crimes, genocide, torture and other forms of serious human rights abuses from conflicts around the globe. When foreign war crimes suspects, persecutors and human rights abusers are identified within U.S. borders, the unit utilizes its powers and authorities to the fullest extent of the law to investigate, prosecute and, whenever possible, remove any such offenders from the United States. Courtesy of ice .gov and YouTube. Posted on Nov 16, 2016.)
The unit has four important missions:
To prevent the admission of foreign war crimes suspects, persecutors and human rights abusers into the United States.
To identify and prosecute individuals who have been involved and/or responsible for the commission of human rights abuses across the globe.
To remove, whenever possible, those offenders who are located in the United States.
To oversee the development of programs in response to the former President’s Presidential Study Directive-10, the prevention of mass atrocities.
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.
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