In this report, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) examines DOJ's response to the 1985 Zona Rosa murders in El Salvador. These murders occurred on June 19, 1985, when four men armed with machine guns and rifles jumped out of a pickup truck and opened fire in the direction of four United States Marines who were sitting at a sidewalk cafe in the Zona Rosa district of San Salvador. Several other armed men provided cover by firing in the direction of the Brazilian Embassy across the street. All four Marines, two United States businessmen, and several other individuals were killed in the attack. On June 21, 1985, the Salvadoran police recovered a note claiming responsibility for the Zona Rosa attack from the Mardoqueo Cruz Urban Commandos of the Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores Centroamericanos (PRTC), which was one of five groups comprising the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), a Marxist guerrilla organization.

The United States government expressed outrage about the murders and vowed that the perpetrators would be brought to justice. In 1995, ten years after the murders, allegations surfaced that several Salvadorans connected to the murders were allowed to enter and live in the United States. As a result, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), after briefings from officials of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Department of State (DOS), and DOJ, requested a government-wide review of the United States response to the Zona Rosa murders. SSCI provided a list of eight detailed questions to be answered in the review. With respect to DOJ, these questions focused on any information that DOJ had concerning the investigation and prosecution of the alleged perpetrators, the process by which any of the alleged perpetrators were allowed to enter the United States, and any information on an alleged reprisal for the attack. The Inspectors General of DOJ, DOS, the CIA, and the Department of Defense (DOD) agreed to conduct a joint investigation in response to SSCI's questions, with separate but coordinated Inspector General reports. Each Inspector General's office focused its investigation and report primarily on the actions of its own agency.

In conducting the DOJ OIG review of the DOJ response to the Zona Rosa murders, we first directed all DOJ components to identify and provide to us any documents related to the Zona Rosa murders or their investigation. We received and reviewed over 8,000 pages of documents. We then conducted interviews of numerous DOJ employees who possessed information about the matter, as well as interviews of employees of the CIA, DOS, and DOD in conjunction with investigators from the other OIGs participating in this review.


The first section of our report answers SSCI's questions concerning the DOJ investigations and prosecutions of the Zona Rosa perpetrators. In the immediate aftermath of the murders, it was the consensus of United States government officials that the United States should assist the Salvadorans in a military reprisal against the guerrillas and also assist in a Salvadoran investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators.

The initial investigation into the murders was therefore conducted by the Salvadorans, with some assistance from the FBI. Little forensic evidence of value was recovered at the crime scene--which was solely processed by Salvadoran authorities--and the little that was recovered was mishandled and therefore lost its evidentiary value. At the request of the Salvadorans, the FBI analyzed various pieces of the evidence and interviewed alleged witnesses to the attack beginning in August 1985.

However, no specific perpetrators were initially identified. The break in the case came in August 1985 when the United States Border Patrol arrested Juan Miguel Garcia Melendez (Garcia), who was trying to enter the United States illegally. Garcia volunteered information about the Zona Rosa murders to the Border Patrol, possibly because of a $100,000 reward that had been offered by the United States for information leading to the capture of the Zona Rosa murderers. Garcia reported that he was part of a guerrilla group and had overheard several other guerrillas who frequented the upholstery shop where he worked discussing the Zona Rosa shooting. This information was relayed to Salvadoran authorities, who raided the upholstery shop and arrested William Celio Rivas Bolanos (Rivas) and Jose Abraham Dimas Aguilar (Dimas).

After extensive interrogation by the Salvadoran authorities, Rivas confessed to participating in the Zona Rosa murders as one of the four gunmen. In addition, in a lineup conducted by the Salvadorans, [REDACTED] at the cafe who had been wounded in the attack, [REDACTED], identified Rivas as one of the gunmen. The Salvadorans charged Rivas with the crime and moved to prosecute him in a Salvadoran military court. Dimas was charged with subversive association with guerrillas, although he was not charged with participating in the Zona Rosa attack. Garcia was deported to El Salvador and was also charged with subversive association with the guerrillas.

In 1987, before the Rivas, Garcia, and Dimas cases were tried, the Salvadoran government considered a general amnesty for anyone who had committed "political crimes" during the civil war. Several crimes against United States citizens were excepted from the amnesty, but the Zona Rosa murders were not. Because of the possibility that the Zona Rosa perpetrators would be released from jail as a result of the amnesty, DOS officials asked DOJ to seek an indictment in the United States against the detained suspects, if possible. DOJ determined that the only charge applicable to the crime was 18 U.S.C. 1116, which makes the killing of an internationally protected person punishable in the United States. DOJ recognized that El Salvador's constitution prohibits the extradition of Salvadoran nationals and that El Salvador was unlikely to violate its own constitution and release Salvadoran citizens to the United States for prosecution.

DOJ agreed, however, to pursue a potential indictment as a back-up to the Salvadoran prosecutions of the suspects. FBI agents travelled to El Salvador to collect evidence, and DOJ prosecutors also made two trips to El Salvador to locate evidence and interview witnesses. The DOJ prosecutors located [REDACTED] and arranged for him to be brought to the United States as a potential witness against Rivas.

DOJ prosecutors believed the only viable case was against Rivas, and that it was in essence a one-witness case relying on the testimony of [REDACTED]. The prosecutors concluded that Rivas' confessions could be suppressed in a United States court because of a claim that they were coerced by the Salvadorans and were involuntary. The prosecutors were also concerned about the admissibility of the lineup identification of Rivas by [REDACTED], because the Salvadorans were unable to provide evidence that the lineup was not unduly suggestive.

Despite obstacles faced in a prosecution of Rivas, including the most basic issue of how to obtain custody of him and the lack of admissible forensic evidence, DOJ obtained an indictment of Rivas from a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C. on September 15, 1989. He was charged with murder of an internationally protected person under 18 U.S.C. 1116 and conspiring to murder an internationally protected person under 18 U.S.C. 1117. The indictment was returned under seal. DOJ prosecutors concluded that there was insufficient admissible evidence to charge anyone else in the United States.

After numerous appeals and remands on the issue of amnesty in El Salvador, Rivas, Garcia, and Dimas were tried in 1991 by a Salvadoran court and convicted of the charges against them. Rivas was sentenced to 25 years in prison, Garcia to 11 years (later reduced to seven and a half years by an appellate court), and Dimas to four years. Dimas was released in 1992 and Garcia was released in 1993, having served their full sentences. In 1995, the Salvadorans passed a law prohibiting the incarceration of a juvenile for over seven years. Rivas, who was seventeen at the time of the Zona Rosa murders, was released from prison, having served ten years of his sentence.

Although the United States indictment of Rivas is still pending, the DOJ prosecutors assigned to his case believe that Rivas could not be prosecuted successfully in the United States because [REDACTED] value as a witness has substantially declined. After [REDACTED] came to the United States, he admitted to committing a murder in El Salvador in retaliation for the rape of his girlfriend. In addition, in 1991, [REDACTED] was convicted in Virginia for molesting the minor child of his girlfriend, and he is currently serving a 20-year sentence in a Virginia state prison.

In July 1988, the Salvadoran authorities arrested another alleged participant in the Zona Rosa attack, Juan Antonio Morales Lucero (Morales). Morales allegedly confessed to being one of the guerrillas who provided security during the attack. The FBI received reports concerning his arrest and confession shortly after they occurred. Yet, these reports were not conveyed to the DOJ prosecutors handling the case. Nor did the FBI include any information about Morales in the FBI's prosecutive report on the Zona Rosa case, which was issued in November 1988. Had the FBI passed the information to prosecutors, further investigation could have been conducted about Morales' involvement in the attack. Morales claimed at his trial in El Salvador in 1993 that his confession was coerced, and he was acquitted by the jury, after having spent five years in detention awaiting trial. By that time, the statute of limitations on any United States prosecution had run. However, DOJ prosecutors reported that they would not have sought an indictment against Morales based on his confession alone.

Our overall conclusion about the Salvadoran investigation and prosecution of the Zona Rosa perpetrators is that the Salvadorans made aggressive efforts to identify and prosecute the perpetrators of the Zona Rosa attack. A criminal prosecution of guerrillas in the middle of the Salvadoran civil war was an unusual concept in El Salvador. The Salvadoran prosecution of Zona Rosa defendants was therefore surprising. While the Salvadoran investigation, particularly the handling of evidence, was flawed when measured against United States standards, the Salvadorans aggressively sought the prosecution of those individuals involved in the attack who they were able to identify and apprehend.

We also conclude that DOJ's efforts to prosecute the Zona Rosa murders were reasonable and DOJ's prosecutive decisions appropriate, given the background and facts of the case. DOJ prosecutors and FBI investigators made substantial efforts to uncover admissible evidence against the Zona Rosa perpetrators. DOJ energetically pursued the prosecution of Rivas at the request of DOS, despite the fact that the United States indictment was sought only as a back-up to the Salvadoran prosecution and uncertainty that the United States would ever gain custody of any Salvadoran defendants. DOJ's current belief is also reasonable that a prosecution of Rivas for a crime over ten years old would not be successful. In addition, DOJ prosecutors made the reasonable prosecutive judgment that there was insufficient admissible evidence against anyone else to bring an indictment in the United States.


This section answers SSCI's questions about DOJ's relationship and contact with the perpetrators. DOJ had no relationship with any of those allegedly involved in the attack. The United States Border Patrol, FBI, and Naval Investigative Service interviewed Garcia in August 1985, when he was arrested trying to enter the United States. DOJ prosecutors also interviewed Garcia when he was in prison in El Salvador in 1988. In both interviews, Garcia denied participating in the attack. The FBI interviewed Pedro Antonio Andrade, the alleged mastermind of the Zona Rosa murders, after his capture in May 1989.


The next section of the report examines the entry into the United States of two persons allegedly connected to the Zona Rosa attacks, Pedro Andrade and Gilberto Osorio.

A. Andrade

We first discuss the entry of Andrade into the United States pursuant to a three-year public interest parole granted by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) at the request of DOS. Andrade had been arrested by the Salvadorans in May 1989 and was believed to be the mastermind of the Zona Rosa murders. The CIA wanted to exploit him for his intelligence value, but DOJ did not want any debriefing of him to interfere with a possible United States prosecution of him. As a result, the CIA Station in El Salvador was told it could talk to him, but it should avoid any discussion of the Zona Rosa matter. On June 6 through 8, 1989, an FBI agent from Mexico City and the United States Embassy's Legal Officer interviewed Andrade about his alleged involvement in the murders. Andrade denied participating in the attack, although he did admit being asked by guerrillas to arrange for a safehouse and doctor in anticipation of an attack on "gringos." Andrade said he was not able to make those arrangements.

After the interview, the Embassy's Legal Officer arranged for the Salvadorans to polygraph Andrade about his role in the attack. After initial inconclusive results, a second Salvadoran polygraph was reported to support Andrade's truthfulness. As a result, in September 1989, the Embassy requested that DOJ decline to extradite or prosecute Andrade, and a proposal for parole of Andrade into the United States was raised. The evidence indicates that the CIA Station supported the idea of parole for Andrade at this time.

The proposal to parole Andrade into the United States was met with strong resistance from DOJ, because DOJ prosecutors believed Andrade was implicated in the attack, even though they did not have sufficient admissible evidence to prosecute him in the United States. In September and October 1989, a series of meetings among DOJ, DOS, and CIA officials were held in Washington to discuss the parole request. In an interagency meeting on October 5, 1989, an agreement was reached that Andrade would not be paroled into the country unless it could be shown that he was not involved in the Zona Rosa murders and unless further interagency discussions were held and agreement reached concerning his parole.

In December 1989, after reviewing the CIA's intelligence concerning Andrade, DOJ prosecutors remained convinced that, although there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him, Andrade had been involved in the murders and should not be paroled into the United States. CIA Headquarters attorneys also reviewed CIA intelligence files and were convinced that Andrade was implicated in the attack. In January 1990, CIA Headquarters notified the Station in El Salvador of its findings and informed the Station that any proposal to provide assistance to Andrade would be met with strong resistance from DOJ.

On March 27, 1990, the Embassy sent a cable to DOS again requesting Andrade's parole. Informational copies were sent to the CIA and the FBI, but the cables were not sent to the attention of any of the participants in the previous interagency meetings on Andrade. The parole request cable stated that the Embassy did not believe Andrade was involved in the murders, but it did not mention the opposition of DOJ to the parole or the agreement that further interagency meetings should be held to discuss any subsequent parole request. Neither the Embassy nor DOS in Washington contacted DOJ prosecutors about the parole request. The CIA Station did not cable CIA Headquarters about the parole request or the circumstances surrounding it. CIA Headquarters apparently received an informational copy of the parole request, but the CIA did not take any action to notify the interagency participants. Moreover, although the cable was sent to the FBI, FBI Headquarters did not notify DOJ prosecutors. FBI Headquarters forwarded the cable to the FBI's Washington Metropolitan Field Office (WMFO), the field office responsible for the Zona Rosa case, and to the Mexico City Legat office, without comment or any request for action. No one in WMFO or the Legat notified the DOJ prosecutors handling the Zona Rosa case about the parole request.

As a result, DOJ prosecutors did not learn of the parole request, and no interagency discussions concerning the parole request ever occurred. Rather, a visa officer at DOS asked the INS to approve Andrade's parole in a routine fashion, without notifying INS about the significant opposition to the parole from the DOJ prosecutors, the FBI, or others. The INS granted the parole request and Andrade entered the United States in June 1990. DOJ prosecutors were furious when they first learned of Andrade's parole in July 1990, after he had already entered the United States.

In reviewing Andrade's entry into the United States, we conclude that fault in this matter must be shared by many parties. First, the Embassy should have sent the parole request to the interested parties or notified them of it, rather than relying on a routine parole request to accomplish this task. Second, the DOS employees who received the cable should have notified DOJ prosecutors or convened another interagency meeting to discuss the parole request. Third, the FBI failed to handle the parole request appropriately. Specifically, FBI agents in Headquarters, which we find had primary responsibility for coordinating an interagency matter such as the parole, failed to notify the DOJ prosecutors about the request. A supervisory agent at WMFO recognized the importance of the matter and instructed the agent in charge of the case to brief the prosecutor. There is no evidence that this agent ever did so. The case agent had no recollection of this matter or why the prosecutor was not briefed. Had anyone taken any of these steps, an interagency meeting would have taken place, the DOJ attorneys would have opposed Andrade's parole, and it is unlikely that the parole would have been granted.

We conclude that it was not improper for INS to approve the parole request as it did, given the limited information it had available and the routine way the parole request was presented to it. INS received no information about any controversy or objections to the parole when it received the parole request. Absent such indication, INS's reliance on the representations from DOS was not inappropriate.

We also find that the coordination of parole requests needs improvement. The process for the approval of visas is better coordinated, with opportunity for objection by law enforcement authorities to proposed visas in certain categories. A procedure requiring similar coordination of parole requests should be considered. Such coordination would ensure that all important information would be available to the decision-maker and would keep other parole requests from slipping through the system, as this one did.

Andrade's parole has expired, and he has not sought to become a legal resident. INS has decided to begin an exclusion proceeding against him but has not yet done so.

B. Osorio

Our report next turns to the alleged involvement of Gilberto Osorio in the Zona Rosa attacks. Osorio is a United States citizen currently living in San Francisco. During the 1980s he fought with the guerrillas in the civil war in El Salvador. In a "60 Minutes" program broadcast in May 1995, narrator Ed Bradley stated that Osorio had admitted to helping plan the Zona Rosa attack. However, in an interview with a newspaper reporter after the broadcast, and in an interview with the FBI in December 1995, Osorio denied making this statement. Osorio admitted that he had fought alongside the guerrillas in El Salvador. He also said that he believed that United States military personnel who were participating in battles against guerrilla forces were legitimate targets, but he said he was in no way involved in or had any advance knowledge of the Zona Rosa attack on the United States Marines. Our review found no information that Osorio was involved in the Zona Rosa attack.


The final section of our report answers SSCI's question concerning DOJ's knowledge of any possible military reprisals for the Zona Rosa murders. DOJ had no knowledge of any such reprisals or any other military action connected to the Zona Rosa murders.




A. Background

On June 19, 1985, at approximately 9:30 p.m., four United States Marines, two United States businessmen, a Guatemalan, a Chilean, and four Salvadorans were killed in a machine gun attack in the Zona Rosa area of San Salvador, El Salvador. The Marines were sitting at tables in front of Chili's, a sidewalk cafe that was frequented by United States Embassy personnel on an almost nightly basis. The Marines were attached to the United States Embassy Security Guard Detachment and, although not in uniform, were easily identifiable as United States Marines by their haircuts, clothing, and security radios.

Witnesses recounted that the murders occurred when a group of heavily armed men travelling in the back of a pickup truck pulled up to the curb in front of the cafe. Several men armed with machine guns and rifles came out of the truck and opened fire in the direction of the Marines, who were sitting at a cafe table within a few feet of the curb. Several other armed men provided security by directing gunfire towards the Brazilian Embassy across the street.

On June 21, 1985, a juvenile delivered an envelope to the Salvadoran National Police containing a communique he said he found in a telephone booth. The envelope contained a note from a Salvadoran guerrilla group called the Central American Revolutionary Workers Party (the Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores Centroamericanos or "PRTC"), which was one of the guerrilla groups constituting the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN). The communique stated that the FMLN claimed responsibility for the "annihilation attack against American military advisors."

The United States government expressed outrage over the murders and vowed that action would be taken against the perpetrators. On June 22, 1985, at a memorial service at Andrews Air Force Base for the murdered United States Marines, President Reagan promised to use United States power to bring to justice those involved in the Zona Rosa slayings. The United States government also offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the effective prosecution and punishment of those responsible for the attack.

In 1995, allegations surfaced that several Salvadorans possibly connected to the murders were not captured or prosecuted but were allowed to enter and live in the United States. This allegation was first aired in a "60 Minutes" report that was televised on May 21, 1995. The "60 Minutes" report stated that Gilberto Osorio had participated in the Zona Rosa murders and was living in San Francisco at the time of the broadcast.

On June 21, 1995, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) held a closed hearing in which the Zona Rosa murders were discussed. Senator Richard Shelby asked Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) John Deutch to review the Zona Rosa matter and to determine whether the CIA had played any role in helping Osorio come to the United States.

On October 12, 1995, officials from the CIA, the Department of State (DOS), and the Department of Justice (DOJ) briefed SSCI on the Zona Rosa murders and the United States response to them. The CIA officials stated that Osorio was a United States citizen and that the CIA had searched its intelligence files but found nothing to indicate that Osorio had been involved in the murders. The CIA reported, however, that in 1990 a Salvadoran allegedly connected to the murders, Pedro Andrade, had received a three-year parole that enabled him to enter the United States. Although Andrade's parole had expired, he was still living in the United States. DOS and DOJ confirmed the information provided by the CIA. DOJ added that the statute of limitations had run on any criminal charges against Andrade in the United States.

On February 22, 1996, in letters sent to the Attorney General, the DCI, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Defense, SSCI requested that the Inspectors General of these agencies conduct a government-wide review of the facts surrounding the Zona Rosa murders. SSCI's letter listed eight specific questions to be answered. The Inspectors General agreed to conduct a joint investigation in response to SSCI's request, with separate but coordinated reports. Each Inspector General's office focused its investigation and report primarily on the actions of its own agency.

B. Objective, Scope, and Methodology of the Investigation

As an initial step in our investigation, the DOJ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) requested that DOJ components identify and provide to the OIG all documents in their files relating to the Zona Rosa murders. In response to this request, we received over 8,000 pages of documents. Almost all these documents came from Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Headquarters, the FBI's Washington Metropolitan Field Office (WMFO), the FBI's Mexico City Legal Attache Office (Legat), the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), and the United States Attorney's Office (USAO) for the District of Columbia.

After receiving these documents, we interviewed numerous witnesses knowledgeable about the Zona Rosa matter. These interviews were conducted jointly with the other three OIG offices involved in the review. Each OIG office was responsible for arranging interviews with witnesses from its respective agency and for leading the questioning of its witnesses, but all OIGs were permitted to participate in the questioning.

To allow DOJ witnesses to prepare for their interviews and to refresh their recollections about events that occurred many years ago, we provided all DOJ witnesses with access to the relevant documents before they were interviewed. Most of the DOJ witnesses took advantage of this offer. [Witnesses from other agencies for the most part did not review documents before their interviews.] Unfortunately, however, a review of documents could not bring back some witnesses' specific recollection of events that occurred five to ten years ago.

The four OIG offices involved in this review shared documents related to issues of mutual interest. As a result, we reviewed numerous documents collected by the three other OIGs. This step was important, because documents collected by other OIGs were critical in understanding what DOJ employees had done with regard to the Zona Rosa murders and why DOJ employees took certain actions.

In the course of our investigation, we interviewed DOJ prosecutors involved in the Zona Rosa case, FBI agents who handled the matter in the Washington Metropolitan Field Office, FBI agents from the Mexico City Legat, the INS officer who approved the parole of Andrade, and the INS attorney currently reviewing Andrade's immigration status. We also participated in the interview of over twenty-five witnesses from other agencies. All told, we reviewed thousands of pages of documents and participated in interviews of approximately forty witnesses.

C. Organization of this Report

This report is divided into four sections. Each section will answer several related questions asked by SSCI in its February 22, 1996, letter to the Attorney General. In Section II of the report, we answer SSCI's Questions 1, 2, 5, and 7, which focus on the Salvadoran and DOJ investigations in response to the murders, information received by DOJ about the perpetrators of the murders, and DOJ's dealing with the Salvadoran government concerning its investigation into the murders. To answer these questions, we provide a chronological account of the Salvadoran and DOJ investigations after the murders took place. The section starts with a description of DOJ's initial role in providing support for the Salvadoran investigation. We describe the Salvadoran investigation, DOJ's assistance to the Salvadoran investigation, and the arrest by the Salvadorans of several suspects. Section II details the opening of a DOJ investigation when El Salvador was considering releasing the suspects in 1987. Section II then describes DOJ's investigation, leading to an indictment in the United States against William Celio Rivas Bolanos (Rivas), one of the gunmen in the attack. This section also summarizes information DOJ obtained on other perpetrators and "intellectual authors" of the murder. It concludes with our assessment of DOJ's investigative efforts.

Section III of this report discusses SSCI's Questions 3 and 4, which ask whether DOJ had any relationship with the perpetrators of the murders or received any information from the perpetrators. We found no evidence that DOJ had any relationship with the perpetrators. DOJ received information from Juan Miguel Garcia Melendez when he was apprehended by the United States Border Patrol in August 1985 and gave a statement. DOJ also received information from Pedro Andrade when the FBI interviewed him after his capture in May 1989. DOJ obtained no other information from the perpetrators, although in the course of DOJ's investigation, it reviewed statements given by the alleged perpetrators to Salvadoran authorities and to others.

Section IV of the report answers Question 6, which asks about the entry into the United States of any perpetrators of the murders. This section discusses in detail the process by which the alleged planner of the attack, Pedro Antonio Andrade, also known as Mario Gonzales, came to receive a public interest parole into the United States. In chronological order, this section describes the actions that led to Andrade being paroled into the United States in 1990 without the knowledge of the DOJ prosecutors handling the case. We describe the parole request and how it was granted. We then describe Andrade's current immigration status. In this section, we also address the information in DOJ's possession concerning Osorio, a United States citizen who fought with the Salvadoran guerrillas and now lives in San Francisco. We found no evidence that DOJ has or had any information indicating that Osorio had any role in the Zona Rosa attack.

The final section, Section V, answers SSCI's Question 8, which relates to United States reprisals for the Zona Rosa murders. We found no evidence that DOJ had any information about any such reprisal.

Attachment A is a chronology of events outlining DOJ actions and significant events in the Zona Rosa matter. Attachment B is a glossary of names and terms used in the report.