In a news release issued Friday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that it had removed Grijalva Monroy, a longtime manager of the Apalachicola Piggly Wiggly, because of his involvement as a former soldier involved in torturing suspected guerrillas during his service in the Salvadoran Army.

Four months to the day he was apprehended as he drove to his job as a manager of the Piggly-Wiggly, Apalachicola resident Jose Francisco “Poncho” Grijalva Monroy was deported back to his home country of El Salvador Friday, for alleged human rights violations committed while he served in the Salvadoran Army during that country’s bloody civil war.

In a news release issued Friday, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the 49-year-old Monroy was involved in torturing suspected guerillas during his service in the Salvadorian Army.

Officers with ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations officers turned him over to immigration authorities in El Salvador.

Ever since Monroy’s Feb 9 arrest by ICE officers, he had been held in detention in Wakulla County up until a few days ago when he was relocated to Miami, to board a flight back to that Central American nation.

A native of El Salvador, he has lived in Apalachicola over 20 years, and is married with a wife and two sons.

According to court documents, Monroy testified that as a soldier in the Salvadoran army, he tortured guerrillas by hanging them by their hands from trees and slapping their chests with his bare hands.

The news release said Monroy also admitted that he tied suspected guerrillas to the back of an army Jeep and dragged them on the road until their skin came off.

“As this removal makes clear, ICE is working diligently to ensure our nation does not become a safe haven for human rights violators," said Marc J. Moore, field office director for the Miami Field Office of ERO.

After living in the United States under temporary protective status for more than a decade, sn immigration judge with the Executive Office for Immigration Review ordered Monroy removed to El Salvador on Feb. 28, 2011. His appeal was dismissed by the Board of Immigration Review on Aug. 16, 2012.

The arrest of Monroy, a friendly face at the grocery store, was met with concern and confusion among Apalachicola residents, as he was regarded by the community as a longtime legal resident, active with the soccer-playing community, with children in school. On March 11, a crowd of about two dozen staged a demonstration on his behalf in front of the State Capitol in Tallahassee.

His deportation clears up the speculation that his arrest was in some way connected to a 1997 arrest in Franklin County for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Following successful completion of a deferred prosecution agreement, that case was dropped by prosecutors.

The immigration case was litigated by ICE’s Orlando Office of Chief Counsel with the support of the Human Rights Law Section and the Immigration Law and Practice Division and was supported by ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC).

Established in 2009 to further ICE’s efforts to identify, track and prosecute human rights abusers, the HRVWCC 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.

Since 2003, ICE has arrested more than 380 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders against and physically removed 785 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States. Additionally, ICE has facilitated the departure of an additional 108 such individuals from the United States.

Currently, HSI has more than 160 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,750 leads and removals cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. Since 2003, the HRVWCC has issued more than 70,400 lookouts for individuals from more than 110 countries and stopped 213 human rights violators and war crimes suspects from entering the U.S.

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 ICE tip line at 1-866-DHS-2423 (1-866-347-2423). Callers may remain anonymous. To learn more about the assistance available to victims in these cases, the public should contact ICE’s confidential victim-witness toll-free number at 1-866-872-4973.statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders against and physically removed 785 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States. Additionally, ICE has facilitated the departure of an additional 108 such individuals from the U.S.