Former Top Official with Guatemalan National Police Arrested on Visa Fraud Charge for Allegedly Failing to Disclose Murder Charges
LOS ANGELES – The former chief of the National Police in Guatemala’s second-largest city was arrested today on visa fraud charges in relation to his procurement of a “green card” after he allegedly failed to disclose to U.S. immigration authorities that he had been charged with murdering two political activists in Guatemala.
Catalino Esteban Valiente Alonzo, 77, of Fontana, who was the chief of the National Police in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, was arrested after being charged in a one-count indictment returned on Tuesday by a federal grand jury.
The indictment specifically alleges that Valiente entered the United States in April 2013 with a Lawful Permanent Resident card he fraudulently obtained by failing to disclose that he had been arrested and tried for kidnapping and murder in Guatemala.
In late 1987, Valiente and others were charged in Guatemala with the kidnapping and murder of two people affiliated with the Agronomy Department at the Centro Universitario de Occidente in Quetzaltenango. Valiente was convicted twice, but both convictions – and two 30-year sentences – were overturned on appeals, and the matter was remanded to a trial court for further proceedings in 1993. An arrest warrant for Valiente was issued in July 1993, and it renewed twice, but the warrant was rescinded in 2015. It is unclear if charges remain pending against Valiente in Guatemala.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
Valiente is expected to be arraigned on the indictment this afternoon in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
If he were to be convicted of visa fraud, Valiente would face a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.
This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF), in coordination with the HSI Attaché in Guatemala City and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate.
The investigation was supported by ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC). Established in 2009 to identify, track and prosecute human rights abusers, 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.
Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes may call the ICE tip line at 1-866-DHS-2423 (1-866-347-2423). Callers may remain anonymous.
This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Stacey R. Fernandez of the Violent and Organized Crime Section.