A former Guatemalan police chief is facing charges that he failed to disclose on immigration documents that he was facing kidnapping and murder charges back home when he entered the U.S. in 2013, prosecutors said Friday.
In a one-count indictment returned by a grand jury this week, prosecutors say Catalino Esteban Valiente Alonzo failed to reveal that he had been arrested and tried for kidnapping and murder in his home country when he successfully applied for a lawful permanent resident card, commonly known as a green card, and entered the United States.
Valiente, 77, who lives in Fontana, was chief of the National Police in Guatemala’s second-largest city, Quetzaltenango. In 1987 he was charged with the kidnapping and murder of two people affiliated with the Agronomy Department at the Centro Universitario de Occidente, according to prosecutors.
He was twice convicted and sentenced to two 30-year sentences, but both were overturned on appeal and sent back to trial court for further proceedings in 1993, officials said. An arrest warrant was issued for Valiente in Guatemala that year.
Prosecutors said he entered the United States with a green card in 2013 while the warrant was still in effect. The warrant was ultimately rescinded in 2015, and it’s not clear what charges remain outstanding against him in Guatemala, officials said.
A request for comment from his defense attorney was not immediately returned Friday afternoon. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Valiente is not the first person federal authorities have dealt with in the U.S. who apparently fled Guatemala while facing serious charges.
In 2016, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced they had arrested and deported Santos Lopez Alonzo, a former member of the Guatemalan army who witnesses said participated in the 1982 massacre at Las Dos Erres that left more than 200 men, women and children dead.
Last year, another suspected participant in that massacre, Jose Mardoqueo Ortiz Morales, was arrested by agents from Homeland Security Investigations’ Baltimore office.
Two other alleged participants in that massacre are serving 10-year federal prison terms for naturalization fraud — similar to what Valiente was charged with this week.