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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement

July 3, 2003

Former WWII Death Camp Nazi-SS Guard Arrested
Fugitive belonged to Germany’s Infamous "Death’s Head Battalion "

Detroit, MI- Director of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, and Attorney General John Ashcroft, today announced the arrest of World War II Nazi concentration camp guard, Johann Leprich in Clinton Township, Michigan.

Special Agents from the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with assistance from the local police officers of Clinton Township and Macomb County, MI, apprehended Leprich, 77, late last night at his home on immigration-related charges. The agents from ICE found him hiding in a secret compartment beneath the stairs of his home.

The DOJ Office of Special Investigations has asked a federal immigration court in Detroit to deport Leprich for his service as an armed guard at a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.

"This is another example of the results that can be achieved when federal and local law enforcement authorities work together and combine their resources," noted Secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge.

Leprich immigrated to the United States in 1952 and became a naturalized citizen in 1958. In a 1987 decision revoking Leprich’s U.S. citizenship, U.S. District Judge Barbara Hackett found that Leprich had served as an armed SS Death’s Head guard at Mauthausen Concentration Camp in Nazi-occupied Austria from late 1943 to at least April 1944.

The Court found that inmates at Mauthausen were used as slave laborers in a quarry located at the camp, and that many inmates were starved, beaten, tortured and killed by a variety of methods, including gassing, hanging, electrocution, drowning, burning, starving and shooting.

After Leprich’s citizenship was revoked, his attorney told federal authorities that Leprich had left the United States. In 1997, various media sources reported that Leprich had been seen in the Winsdor, Ontario area of Canada and was believed to be living there.

Yesterday’s arrest was the culmination of a recent investigation conducted by ICE, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Detroit, and the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations based on indications that Leprich was either living in or visiting Michigan.

"People who took part in these horrific crimes against humanity should know that we will never stop looking for them. "There is no statute of limitations on evil," asserted Acting Assistant Secretary Michael J. Garcia, "our agents remain committed to ridding our communities of criminals who have no right to remain in this country."

A charging document filed today in U.S. Immigration Court by the Department of Homeland Security and OSI states that Leprich should be deported based on his service as an armed SS guard at Mauthausen. The charging document also alleges that Leprich is subject to deportation because he failed to comply with a statute requiring that aliens residing in the United States report their address to federal authorities.

"This arrest makes clear that those who participated in the atrocities of the Holocaust will not escape the determined reach of U.S. law enforcement, regardless of how much time has passed," said Attorney General Ashcroft. "Nazi collaborators will not find a safe haven in the United States."

Since 1979, 71 Nazi persecutors have been stripped of U.S. citizenship and 57 have been removed from the United States.

###

Last Modified 07/03/2003



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