An illegal immigrant has been arrested for being a member of the Salvadoran military death squad that brutally murdered six priests
A former army officer from El Salvador who was convicted of taking part in the 1989 massacre of six Jesuit priests and two other people during that country's civil war was arrested in the United States and faces deportation, authorities said Wednesday.
Federal agents, acting on a tip, arrested Gonzalo Guevara Cerritos, 43, on Oct. 18 at a motel near the University of California, Los Angeles. He illegally entered the country in January 2005, according to a statement from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
He was being held at a detention facility pending a deportation hearing next month, said Lori Haley, a spokeswoman for the agency. She did not know where Guevara Cerritos had been or what he was doing in the United States.
"We will not allow the United States to be a place of refuge for aliens seeking to escape a violent criminal past," Robert Schoch, special agent in charge of the ICE office of investigations in Los Angeles, said in a statement.
Hector Hugo Herrera, El Salvador's consul general in Los Angeles, said the deportation wouldn't mean much to Salvadorans because Cerritos had served his prison sentence and had been given amnesty in 1993.
"This is just like any other case of an El Salvadoran being deported," said Herrera.
Guevara Cerritos was a sub-lieutenant with the Salvadoran army's counterinsurgency Atlacatl Battalion, which fought the leftist group FMLN during that country's bloody civil war, which ended in 1992. against the FMLN, a leftist guerrilla group.
He and eight other officers and soldiers were convicted of involvement in the 1989 killing of six priests, their cook and her teenage daughter at a university in the capital city of El Salvador.
Guevara was convicted in El Salvador in 1991 of instigation and conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
He spent nearly two years under house arrest before he was pardoned by the government under a 1993 general amnesty, ICE said.
The 12-year civil war cost the lives of some 75,000.
Death Squad Janitor