Telmo Ricardo Hurtado, 'Butcher of the Andes,' Finally On Trial In Peru For 1985 Massacre

​For nearly five years, Telmo Ricardo Hurtado lived a quiet life in sleepy Surfside, moving between low-rent apartments just off Collins Avenue with his mom and his younger brother. Neighbors knew him as a quiet, middle-aged Peruvian who kept to himself. No one saw the day coming in 2007 when ICE agents caught up with Hurtado, who was cowering in his bathroom.

In fact, authorities say, before fleeing to America Hurtado led one of the worst massacres in Peru's long, bloody war with Shining Path rebels. As a patrol leader in 1985, he ordered the brutal deaths of 69 villagers, they say. Today, he finally faces a trial in his homeland.

As you can read in our 2007 feature, "Butcher of the Andes," the killings Hurtado is accused of leading left an indelible scar on Peru.

On August 14, 1985, Hurtado, then a young second lieutenant, led a squad of 30 soldiers into the small town of Accomarca at the height of Peru's civil war. Hurtado led the 69 villagers into a field while their homes were ransacked, then forced them all into a few small houses. His soldiers then machine-gunned, grenade-bombed, and burned the homes until no one was left alive.

In 2002, after the Peruvian government rejected amnesty deals for war crimes suspects, Hurtado fled to Miami. He may have been able to live a quiet life underground in the Magic City if the Center for Justice and Accountability, a human rights legal group, hadn't filed suit against him in 2007.

Soon after, ICE agents arrested Hurtado. A U.S. judge eventually found him responsible for the massacre and ordered him to repay $37 million to his victims. Now that a six-month prison term in the U.S. is up, he's at last facing a criminal tribunal in Peru.

"Thanks to the hope and persistence of the survivors of this terrible massacre, the day has finally come to obtain justice," Almudena Bernabeu, a CJA attorney, says. "The survivors have waited 25 long years for this day."

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink