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ERO Miami removes former Chilean military officer wanted for kidnapping and murder related to 1973 military coup

MIAMI, Fla. — A Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Space Coast investigation led to the removal of Pedro Paulo Barrientos Nunez, a denaturalized U.S. citizen, to his home country of Chile on Nov. 30, 2023, by U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Miami.

Upon arrival, Barrientos — who is wanted in Chile in connection with his involvement in the kidnapping and murder of Victor Jara and one other victim at Chile Stadium — was taken into custody by Chilean law enforcement officials and now faces accusations of kidnapping and murder committed following the 1973 military coup.

“Barrientos’ denaturalization and removal demonstrates that the law will catch up to those who break it, no matter how long it takes,” said ERO Miami Field Office Director Garrett Ripa. “We are proud to be partners with Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the middle District of Florida, and a host of other law enforcement agencies who poured their resources into making sure Barrientos faces his accusers in his home country.”

In 2012, the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center learned of the allegations against Barrientos and supported the subsequent investigation. Barrientos, then a naturalized U.S. citizen, was a former Chilean military officer who participated in the military coup to install the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet in September 1973. Barrientos was implicated in acts of torture and extrajudicial killing that soon followed.

In 2016, a jury in a civil case before the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida found Barrientos liable for the torture and killing of Victor Jara at Chile Stadium, an indoor sports facility that the military commandeered as a de facto detention center. In addition to Jara, many other prisoners were tortured, and some killed, at Chile Stadium.

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida revoked Barriento’s U.S. citizenship on July 14, 2023, based on a complaint filed by the Department of Justice’s Office of Immigration Litigation. The court found Barrientos willfully concealed material facts related to his military service in his immigration applications.

On Oct. 5, 2023, HSI Tampa’s Space Coast office apprehended Barrientos; he was ordered removed to Chile on Oct. 30, 2023.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’ largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

This case was supported by the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center and HSI Buenos Aires. Established in 2008, the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center furthers HSI’s efforts to identify, locate and prosecute human rights abusers in the United States, including those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, female genital mutilation, and the use or recruitment of child soldiers. The Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center leverages the expertise of a select group of agents, lawyers, intelligence and research specialists, historians and analysts who direct the agency’s broader enforcement efforts against these offenders. Currently, HSI has more than 180 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,700 leads and removals cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. Since 2003, HSI has arrested more than 510 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and immigration statutes.

As one of ICE’s three operational directorates, ERO is the principal federal law enforcement authority in charge of domestic immigration enforcement. ERO’s mission is to protect the homeland through the arrest and removal of those who undermine the safety of U.S. communities and the integrity of U.S. immigration laws, and its primary areas of focus are interior enforcement operations, management of the agency’s detained and non-detained populations, and repatriation of noncitizens who have received final orders of removal. ERO’s workforce consists of more than 7,700 law enforcement and non-law enforcement support personnel across 25 domestic field offices and 208 locations nationwide, 30 overseas postings, and multiple temporary duty travel assignments along the border.

Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to call the HSI tip line at 866-347-2423. Callers may remain anonymous.

Originally published at

- Part of VUGA -USA media group