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  • Remains of the Dos Erres victims

    Remains of the Dos Erres victims | Photo: Reuters

The former soldier is wanted in Guatemala for murder, war crimes, and crimes against humanity for his role in the massacre of hundreds.

U.S. authorities arrested a former Guatemalan special forces soldier responsible for the violent 1982 massacre of more than 200 men, women and children, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement reported.

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Jose Mardoqueo Ortiz Morales, 54, was picked up last week in Maryland by Homeland Security Agents special agents. He was a legal permanent resident at the time of his arrest, an official report says.

Ortiz Morales is a former member of an elite Guatemalan army unit known as the Kaibiles and is wanted in Guatemala on criminal charges for murder, war crimes, and crimes against humanity for his role in the Dos Erres massacre in which approximately 300 residents were killed.

The bloody massacre occurred in December 1982 at the height of the country's 36-year civil war during the de facto administration of former dictator and ally to fomer U.S. President Ronald Reagan, Efrain Rios Montt.

The slaughter was part of Rios Montt's genocidal scorched-earth campaign against the country's Indigenous population. Soldiers entered the village and tortured the men, raped the women, and killed everyone including 113 children.

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Ortiz Morales is the fifth participant in the Dos Erres massacre living in the U.S. to be targeted by ICE for enforcement action.

Guatemala brought an end to its civil war 20 years ago with the signing of historic peace accords between the government and armed revolutionary guerrilla groups. But two decades later the country is still struggling with peace and justice.

The armed conflict became synonymous with the U.S. government’s support for atrocities in a brutal campaign to stave off left-wing and communist movements in Latin America and the rest of the developing world during the Cold War.

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