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Moreno Valley man suspected of belonging to deadly Guatemalan military brigade faces federal charges

January 24, 2011 | 12:02 pm

A Moreno Valley martial-arts instructor suspected of belonging to the Guatemalan military unit that killed more than 150 civilians, including children, in the country's infamous Dos Erres massacre in 1982 faces fraud charges for concealing his past to federal immigration officials.

Jorge Sosa, 52, was arrested by Canadian authorities last week and is being held near Calgary pending an extradition hearing that could send him back to a Riverside federal court to face charges.

Sosa, also known as Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes, is suspected of being a commander in a special forces unit known as the "Kaibiles" that interrogated and then killed men, women and children while searching the Guatemalan village for guerrilla fighters who had ambushed a military convoy.

"During the course of these interrogations, the special patrol 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 throwing them into a well," a Sept. 1 indictment from an Orange County federal grand jury stated.

"Members of the special patrol also forcibly raped many of the women and girls at Dos Erres before killing them," the indictment continued.

Approximately 160 skeletal remains were later found in the village well, according to federal officials. Sosa, who holds citizenship in Canada and the United States, faces two counts of lying to immigration officials to secure his U.S. citizenship.

If convicted of both counts, he could be sentenced to a maximum of 15 years in federal prison and also would be stripped of his U.S. citizenship and deported to Guatemala, said Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles.

Mrozek said bringing Sosa back to California could take months unless Sosa agrees to waive his right to an extradition hearing. Sosa was taken into custody last Tuesday by the Lethbridge Regional Police while visiting family members in Canada.

The charges stem from Sosa allegedly concealing his foreign military service and lying under oath that he had never committed any crime or offense for which he had not been arrested when he applied for U.S. citizenship in March 2008.

A member of the notorious military unit, Gilberto Jordan, of South Florida, was sentenced in September to 10 years in prison for unlawfully procuring his U.S. citizenship by lying about his role in the Dos Erres massacre.

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-- Phil Willon in Riverside

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