WASHINGTON – A Guatemalan national previously removed to his home country by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) was convicted in a Guatemalan court for his role in sexual violence targeting indigenous women in the 1980s. Francisco Cuxum Alvarado, 66, was convicted of crimes against humanity by a High-Risk Court in Guatemala City, Guatemala and sentenced to 30 years imprisonment.
“After nearly 40 years, the women victimized by Cuxum Alvarado and the other defendants have finally received a measure of justice,” said Assistant Director for National Security Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Andre R. Watson. “Although Cuxum Alvarado attempted to hide in a quiet suburban town, through incredible investigative effort and cooperation he was found, prosecuted and returned to Guatemala to face the victims and the legal consequences of his actions.”
ICE ERO officers removed Cuxum Alvarado in January 2020, to his native country where he was handed over to Guatemalan authorities. His removal followed a federal conviction in December 2019, for illegally reentering the United States.
Cuxum Alvarado was initially located and arrested in Waltham, Massachusetts, April 30, 2019, following a criminal investigation led Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents assigned to the Boston field office. Significant support was provided by ERO Boston’s Fugitive Operations Unit, ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC), HSI Attaché Guatemala City, Guatemala, and Waltham Police Department. In May 2019, Alvarado pleaded guilty to one count of illegal reentry into the United States and in December 2019, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani to six months in prison.
In the early 1980s, Cuxum Alvarado was part of a civilian militia known as a Civil Defense Patrol (PAC) that, with the military, perpetrated a series of massacres against the indigenous Maya Achí people in and around the municipality of Rabinal, in Guatemala. More than 400 Maya Achí people were killed in these massacres and hundreds of others were forcibly removed from their homes. In 1998, Cuxum Alvarado was named as a suspect in the March 13, 1982, massacre of 177 individuals, including 107 children at Cerro Pacoxom in what is known as the Rio Negro massacre.
In addition to the massacres, military and PAC members perpetrated sexual violence against Maya Achí women during the 1980s. In 2018, the Guatemalan government charged Cuxum Alvarado with crimes against humanity for participating in the wartime sexual violence against Maya Achí women in and around Rabinal.
The U.S. case was developed and supported by ICE’s HRVWCC. The HRVWCC is the only U.S. government entity focused completely on investigating global atrocities and the perpetrators of human rights violations and war crimes. Initiated by HSI in 2008, the HRVWCC leverages the knowledge and expertise of a select group of special agents, attorneys, intelligence analysts, criminal research specialists and historians who are charged with preventing the U.S. from becoming a haven for individuals who engage in the commission of war crimes, genocide, torture and other forms of serious human rights abuses from conflicts around the globe.
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.
Since 2003, ICE has arrested more than 469 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and/or immigration statutes.
During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders against and physically removed 1030 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States. Additionally, ICE has facilitated the departure of an additional 160 such individuals from the United States.
Currently, HSI has more than 180 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,700 leads and removal cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. Since 2003, the HRVWCC has issued more than 78,000 lookouts for individuals from more than 110 countries and stopped over 350 human rights violators and war crimes suspects from entering the U.S.
Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to call the ICE tip line at: 1-866-DHS-2423 (1-866-347-2423). Callers may remain anonymous.