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50 suspected of human rights crimes abroad are arrested in U.S.

50 suspected of human rights crimes abroad are arrested in U.S.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are shown outside a San Fernando Valley home in 2012. On Friday, the agency announced that it had arrested 50 fugitives suspected in serious crimes abroad. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Federal agents have arrested 50 fugitives in cities across the United States -- including Los Angeles -- who are suspected of committing murder and other human rights violations abroad, officials announced Friday.

The arrests mark the second time U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have targeted suspected war criminals illegally seeking shelter in the United States, the agency said. The investigation, dubbed Operation No Safe Haven II, concluded Thursday.

Of the 50, seven were arrested in Los Angeles, most of them from Central America, according to ICE spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea. Five were arrested in San Francisco.

Among those arrested was a Central American man with multiple criminal convictions in the United States who served as a military officer in his native country. The man served in a unit that committed civilian murders and led to the forcible disappearance of a family, authorities said.

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In a statement, ICE said it is "committed to rooting out known or suspected human rights violators who seek a safe haven in the United States."

Those suspected of human rights violations "didn't need to pull the trigger" to be considered criminals, Elzea said.

"Substantial involvement is still a human rights violation," she said.

Authorities said two other Central American citizens who were arrested also committed human rights violations. One allegedly worked as an informant for the military with knowledge that his reports resulted in civilian deaths. The other, ICE said, was convicted of a felony drug charge in the United States and served in his native country’s military for several years, “turning over victims to a regime perpetrating documented human rights violations.”
Others who were arrested are suspected of participating in ethnic cleansing, torture, murder and forced abortions, ICE said.

Ten of the people arrested are also convicted criminals, ICE said. The operation more than doubled the number of suspected human rights violators arrested during the first nationwide No Safe Haven operation in September 2014.

Authorities did not release any further information on the identities of those arrested.

ICE said it has arrested more than 296 people for human-rights-related violations since 2004.

For more local and breaking news, follow @sarahparvini on Twitter.

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