Courts & Crime

Guatemala massacre suspect lived typical Florida life

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — The one-story stucco home where Gilberto Jordan lives west of this south Palm Beach County community does not stand out in the leafy neighborhood near Interstate 95.

Jordán, born in Guatemala, blends easily into the neighborhood of immigrants who hail from such countries as Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Guatemala and Honduras.

But Jordán, 54, is no ordinary immigrant.

He is a former soldier in a Guatemalan army unit known as Kaibiles, a group of highly trained and highly feared fighters who in the 1980s formed special commando teams to track down and kill Cuban-backed leftist guerrillas operating in the Central American country.

But the Kaibiles also were implicated in massacres of innocent villagers. And this week federal agents swooped down onto Jordán's driveway along the 5000 block of Palm Ridge Boulevard near Military Trail and arrested him on charges related to a December 1982 massacre that left 251 men, women and children dead. The massacre at Dos Erres (two Rs) was one of the worst in Guatemala's 36-year-long civil war.

When questioned by authorities, Jordán ``readily admitted'' participating in the massacre, throwing a live baby into a well and taking other people to the well where they were later executed by other soldiers, according to an arrest affidavit filed in West Palm Beach federal court.

When an El Nuevo Herald reporter and photographer approached Jordán's house Thursday, a young man identified himself as Jordán's son but refused to give his name. He said his father was not home.

``I know why you are here and we're not giving interviews,'' he said. ``All I can tell you is that my father is a decent man, a hard working man and we know that talking to the press would do more harm than good.''

He did confirm that his father worked as a chef specializing in Italian food. ``He even learned Italian while doing his work,'' the son said.

He refused to say where his father worked, but people familiar with the case said Jordán had prepared dishes at some of Palm Beach's ``country clubs.''

A magistrate judge granted Jordán $100,000 bail and confined him to house arrest and electronic monitoring. Arraignment was set for May 26.

Jordán, a naturalized U.S. citizen, faces up to 10 years in federal prison if convicted of lying on his U.S. citizenship application. He would then be stripped of his citizenship, placed in deportation proceedings and possibly returned to his homeland, where it's unclear if he would be eventually tried for the alleged mass killings.

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