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Press Release

Former Guatemalan Special Forces Soldier Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Making False Statements on Naturalization Forms Regarding 1982 Massacre of Guatemalan Villagers

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

WASHINGTON – Gilberto Jordan, 54, a former Guatemalan special forces soldier, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch in the Southern District of Florida to 10 years in prison for unlawfully procuring his U.S. citizenship by lying about his participation in a 1982 massacre at a Guatemalan village known as Dos Erres, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer for the Southern District of Florida and Director John Morton of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). At sentencing, Judge Zloch also revoked Jordan’s citizenship.

According to court documents, in approximately November 1982, a Guatemalan guerrilla group ambushed a military convoy near Dos Erres, Guatemala, killing soldiers and taking a number of rifles. In response, a patrol of approximately 20 Guatemalan special forces soldiers, known as "Kaibiles," including Jordan, was deployed in December 1982 to the village of Dos Erres to search for the stolen rifles and find suspected guerrillas. According to court documents, on Dec. 7, 1982, Jordan and the special patrol entered Dos Erres with the support of approximately 40 additional Kaibiles, who created a security perimeter around the village so that no one could escape. The members of the special patrol searched all of the houses for the missing weapons, forced the villagers from their homes, and separated the women and children from the men.

Members of the special patrol then proceeded to systematically kill the men, women and children at Dos Erres by, among other methods, hitting them in the head with a sledgehammer and then pushing them into the village well, according to information contained in court documents. Members of the special patrol also forcibly raped many of the women and girls at Dos Erres before killing them. Approximately 162 skeletal remains were later exhumed from the village well.

At his plea hearing, Jordan admitted that he had been a Kaibil in the Guatemalan military who participated in the massacre at Dos Erres. Jordan also admitted that the first person he killed at Dos Erres was a baby, whom Jordan murdered by throwing in the well.

"Gilberto Jordan obtained the privilege of U.S. citizenship by lying about his prior military service and concealing his brutal, murderous participation in the Dos Erres massacre," said Assistant Attorney General Breuer.  "Over the last 30 years, the Department of Justice has strived to ensure that human rights violators who flee to the United States are found, that their reprehensible past actions are proved, and that they are stripped of their ill-gotten U.S. citizenship.  This case and others like it demonstrate that such perpetrators will not be allowed to make this country their home."

"The Southern District of Florida is home to many hardworking immigrants who have fled political persecution," said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer.  "Today’s  sentencing and the judge’s decision to impose the statutory maximum sentence make clear that perpetrators of human rights abuses cannot hide among us and blend in with their victims.  They will be found, prosecuted, and punished."

ICE Director John Morton said, "Today’s sentence sends a message to those human rights violators worldwide. We will not turn a blind eye on the perpetrators of such egregious crimes.  ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations agents will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that human rights violators cannot seek safe haven in the United States."

According to court documents, when Jordan applied to become a U.S. citizen in September 1996, he falsely denied that he had ever served in the military or committed any crimes for which he had not been arrested. In July 1999, when Jordan was interviewed by a naturalization examiner in connection with his naturalization application, he falsely swore under oath that the answers he had provided earlier on his application were true and correct. Jordan was sworn in as a U.S. citizen on Aug. 25, 1999.

The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Hillary Davidson and Brian Skaret of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, and by Assistant U.S. Attorney A. Marie Villafaña of the Southern District of Florida. The case was investigated by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations in West Palm Beach, Fla., and ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit and ICE’s Office of International Affairs. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance in this matter.

Updated June 9, 2023

Press Release Number: 10-1042