In 1978, Colonel Juan Evangelista López Grijalba (also written Grijalva) was named director of the National Investigations Directorate (DNI). In 1981, López Grijalba held command and control over the operations of DNI in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. He also oversaw the operations of the Anti-Communist Liberation Army (ELACH) and the death squad that came to known as Batallion 316.
In 1982, López Grijalba became the director of military intelligence (G-2) for the Armed Forces General Staff. As G-2 director, López Grijalba oversaw the operations of all security forces, including the DNI and Battalion 316. In both its clandestine and “official” incarnations, Battalion 316 operated under the direct command of G-2.
At least one witness identified Grijalba as being among the armed men who carried out the July 8, 1982 raid on the Florencia Sur neighborhood in which Gloria and Oscar Reyes and Hans Maddison were abducted. According to the testimony of Juan Vasquez, of the Christian Development Center, whose headquarters are in that same neighborhood, Grijalba observed the raid from a parked military jeep, and at one point exited the vehicle and spoke to a number of masked men on the street: he appeared to be giving orders.
In 1996, a Honduran judge issued a warrant for Grijalba’s arrest for the 1982 killing of two suspected dissidents. Despite the outstanding arrest warrant, Grijalba was granted Temporary Protected Status, a special immigration category normally reserved for refugees from natural disasters. The U.S. government made numerous TPS designations for Honduran immigrants in the aftermath of Mitch hurricane in 1999.
Grijalba expected to live out a peaceful retirement in the Miami area, until he came to the attention of a former State Department official named Richard Krieger. Krieger was a longtime Nazi-hunter and specialist in U.S. refugee policy who lobbied for the deportation of war criminals and other human rights abusers who have found safe haven in the U.S. With the help of human rights activists and the Honduran community in Florida, Krieger presented the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service with a dossier on Grijalba.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested Lopez-Grijalba in April 2002, after the Department of Homeland Security withdrew his temporary protected status because of his role as a persecutor in Honduras. CJA facilitated the immigration proceedings against Grijalba by providing evidence and preparing witness testimony. On June 11, 2004 Lopez Grijalba was deported to Honduras where he faced criminal charges.
Since that time, CJA has worked closely with Honduran officials to assist in the prosecution of Grijalba and other Honduran human rights abusers.