ICE deports Argentine ex-police officer accused of human rights violations

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) today deported Juan Miguel Méndez, a former Argentine police officer wanted by the Argentine courts as a war criminal. Méndez is accused of participating in torture and extrajudicial executions in clandestine detention centers during the so-called "dirty war" in Argentina between 1976 and 1983.

ICE's War Crimes and Human Rights Violations Unit identified Mendez, 67, following an Interpol notice in May 2009. He was arrested a month later.

ICE sent Méndez back to Argentina, where he must appear before the Argentine courts.

A federal judge in Buenos Aires originally issued an arrest warrant for Méndez in March 2006. That warrant was issued following the 2005 Argentine Supreme Court ruling that annulled the 1986 and 1987 general amnesties. These amnesties had prevented the investigation of most military, police, security services and prison service personnel below the rank of colonel for their participation in human rights violations during the "Dirty War". The Argentine Supreme Court, however, found that the laws under which they were granted amnesty were unconstitutional.

According to data provided by ICE, as of October 2010, the agency acknowledged conducting more than 200 active investigations, following more than 1,400 leads, and is processing deportation cases of suspected human rights violators from approximately 95 different countries. These cases are centered primarily in Central and South America, Haiti, the former Yugoslavia and Africa.