Courts & Crime

Guatemalan immigrant arrested in Florida for 1982 Dos Erres massacre

Over three days in early December 1982, 17 elite soldiers known as kaibiles entered a village in the tropical forest of northeast Guatemala's Peten region.

They went house to house, rousing the inhabitants from sleep -- taking the women and children to a church. The men were shuttled to a school.

Then the kaibiles killed the children and the adults either with blows to the head, throwing them alive into a well, or shooting them, according to survivors. Finally, as the soldiers prepared to leave the village -- known as Dos Erres or Two Rs -- they killed more people. The bodies were thrown into a village well, while the bodies of those killed outside town were left on the road or in bushes.

In all, during three nightmarish days, kaibiles killed 251 children, women and men — one of the worst massacres of the Guatemalan civil war. About 240,000 people were killed during the more than three-decade long conflict.

On Wednesday, federal agents assigned by a specialized unit whose mission is to track down war-criminal suspects went to Palm Beach County and arrested Gilberto Jordan, of Delray Beach, one of three former kaibil unit soldiers that authorities say helped carry out the 1982 massacre.

In a chilling interview Tuesday with ICE special agents, Jordan, now 54, "readily admitted that he threw a baby into the well and participated in killing people at Dos Erres, as well as bringing them to the well where they were killed," according to an affidavit filed with the criminal complaint.

Said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer: "The massacre at Dos Erres was a dark moment for the Guatemalan people, and we will not allow suspected perpetrators to escape justice by taking refuge in our cities and towns."

The two other suspected soldiers -- Jorge Vinicio Sosa-Orantes of Riverside, Calif., and Pedro Pimentel-Rios of Santa Ana, Calif -- are being sought by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents.

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