News Americas, LOS ANGELES, CA, Thurs. July 14, 2011: A former member of the Guatemalan army whom witnesses say participated in a massacre there three decades ago that claimed at least 162 lives has been deported.
The deportation of Pedro Pimentel Rios, 54, capped an effort by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to investigate the case and win the ex-commando’s removal from the United States.
Pimentel Rios arrived in Guatemala on board an ICE Air Operations charter removal flight and was immediately turned over to Guatemalan law enforcement officials. The Santa Ana, Calif., maintenance worker is wanted in his native country on criminal charges for his role in the Dos Erres massacre.
Guatemalan authorities allege Pimentel Rios was among some 20 members of an elite Guatemalan army unit called the Kaibiles who murdered dozens of 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 women were raped during the two-day ordeal.
In July 2010, ICE charged Pimentel Rios in immigration court with being deportable for having assisted or otherwise participated in extrajudicial killings during the Dos Erres massacre. In May, an immigration judge in Los Angeles cleared the way for Pimentel Rios’ repatriation to Guatemala, ruling he was deportable based upon his participation in the extrajudicial killings at Las Dos Erres.
The judge’s ruling capped an intensive legal effort by ICE to gain Pimentel Rios’ removal from the United States following his arrest by ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents in Orange County a year ago.
Since fiscal year 2004, ICE has arrested more than 200 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and/or immigration statutes.