When furious mobs and a military junta forced him to split for South Florida in March 1990, the former dictator didn't waste any time before spreading more of his wealth. Two months later, he bought another ranch home just three blocks north on Saint Andrews Drive for $290,000. It was nearly identical to the first, with a semicircular driveway around a leafy, half-moon garden and a long emerald driving green off the back patio.

Avril and his wife spent at least a year in the suburb until a civil lawsuit — brought by attorney Ira Kurzban and the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of abused opposition leaders — forced him to flee.

Today, 6881 Saint Andrews is a quiet respite blocks from the traffic humming along Miami Gardens Drive. Martha Haber and her husband, Kenneth, have lived there since 1997. Martha says that she knew the history of the place when they bought it but that it was hard to believe a murderous tyrant spent his evenings on such a peaceful suburban street.

Gerardo Machado was known as the "Tropical Mussolini."
Gerardo Machado was known as the "Tropical Mussolini."
Gerardo Machado's former home in Allapattah.
Gerardo Machado's former home in Allapattah.

"When we were remodeling, I kept expecting to find some incriminating papers or some money or bodies or something in the walls," she says matter-of-factly. "But we didn't find anything... I came and sat for a while in the house before we bought it, and it felt like a peaceful place to me."

The aftermath: A federal judge ruled against Avril in 1994, ordering him to pay victims $41 million in compensation. But the despot had long since fled back to Haiti.

Avril lived in obscurity outside Port-au-Prince until 2001, when he released a book about his life and began promoting it in cafés and shops in the capital. That May, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide ordered him arrested and held on an old charge of plotting against the government. He languished in jail for several years until Aristide was forced to flee the country in 2004. That March, a Miami Herald reporter caught up with Avril, "reading novels" comfortably inside his house. His victims have never been paid.

Telmo Ricardo Hurtado

Homeland: Peru

Terrifying nickname: Butcher of the Andes

Iron-fisted infamy: Peru. 1985. The manchaytimpu, a time of conflict. The government was locked in a death battle with Maoist rebels from the Shining Path, and armed paramilitary squads hunted the Andes for weapons caches and guerrillas. On August 14, Telmo Ricardo Hurtado — a thin, tan, 24-year-old second lieutenant with side-parted black hair — led 30 Peruvian soldiers into a village in Quebrada de Huancayo, a dusty green valley 14 hours from Lima. Hurtado filed the 70 or so villagers into a field while his troops ransacked their homes. Then he shepherded them into two houses, where his troops fired machine guns, threw grenades, and set the homes ablaze. Seventy-four people died.

Finding him in South Florida: 7344 Byron Ave., Miami Beach, an apartment building now worth $1.45 million. There might be more modest places for an internationally wanted butcher to live out his last years on the lam than the Hirbess Apartments, but it's difficult to imagine them. The building forms a two-story beige U around a well-swept concrete courtyard on Byron Avenue, a side street in a sleepy neighborhood just south of Surfside. On weekdays, a few retirees trundle walkers and drag their tiny, yipping dogs along the sidewalk.

Hurtado moved here in 2002, after the Peruvian government rejected other amnesty deals for killers. He lived for some time in Apartment 2, a ground-floor unit behind a stack of mailboxes.

Today, there's no name on the mailbox. Next door, a child's hobby horse with a stuffed tiger head leans against the door frame, and a stunt bike is chained to the '60s-era, curved iron railing. Marta Dominguez, an unsmiling, 40-something woman in a frilly pink shirt, has been cleaning the Hirbess for more than a decade. She remembers Hurtado as a quiet guy who helped his mom with the laundry and kept to himself. And she recalls talking to neighbors in the courtyard the day after ICE agents dragged him away. By then, everyone had heard about the Peruvian bloodbath. "I guess you never know," she says before shaking her head, crumbling a trash bag in her hand, and walking away.

The aftermath: On March 30, 2009, ICE agents caught up with Hurtado at an apartment a few blocks away at 7340 Harding Ave., where he was hiding in a bathroom. He eventually earned a six-month sentence in federal prison for lying on his visa application and was deported to Peru. He also lost a $37 million federal civil suit in 2008 to victims of the massacre; it's not clear whether he has paid any of them.

Juan Angel Hernández Lara

Homeland: Honduras

Terrifying nickname: Bandit of Battalion 3-16

Iron-fisted infamy: In the '80s, the CIA hired a crack team of assassins to carry out its nefarious plans against leftist guerrillas and politicians throughout Central America. Among the deadliest was a group of Honduran special forces with the ominously boring name of Battalion 3-16. Juan Angel Hernández Lara joined the battalion as a young army recruit and quickly became an officer. He later admitted that his duties included shoving metal pins under suspects' fingernails, firing bullets into people's hands to force them to talk, and using plastic bags to smother government enemies.

« Previous Page
Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help