“We are talking about one of the biggest cases of forced disappearance in Latin America.” – Thelma Aldana, Guatemala Attorney General
Major arrests were made yesterday morning related to cases of crimes against humanity and forced disappearances committed between 1981 and 1988 by former high-ranking military officers. The remains of 558 people have been found at 4 different sites at the CREOMPAZ military base in Cobán; through DNA testing, many of the remains have been shown to belong to people killed in the 1981 massacre in Plan de Sánchez and other massacres and forced disappearances carried out by the military in the area during the 1980s. Fourteen high-ranking military officers were arrested in connection to the massacres and forced disappearances, including Benedicto Lucas García, head of the Guatemala army between 1978 and 1982; Manuel Antonio Callejas Callejas, head of army intelligence unit G-2 during the same time; and Francisco Luis Gordillo Martínez, co-conspirator with Ríos Montt during the 1982 coup d’etat that began the bloodiest period of Guatemala’s internal armed conflict.*
Benedicto Lucas García, was named alongside his brother, former President Romeo Lucas García (deceased), in the national genocide cases filed in 2000. As head of the army during the Lucas García dictatorship, Benedicto Lucas García is accused of implementing scorched earth policies against the civilian population – a strategy that saw more than 200,000 killed and another 45,000 disappeared during Guatemala’s 36-year internal armed conflict.