An alleged war criminal arrested in Lethbridge on U.S. immigration matters is being defended by his family.

Jorge Vinicio Orantes Sosa, 52, was taken into police custody in Lethbridge for allegedly falsifying documents to get U.S. citizenship.

He is also wanted for alleged war crimes in his native Guatemala, accused of taking part in the massacre of more than 250 people in 1982. He is also a Canadian citizen.

But those who know Sosa say he is one of the nicest people you'd ever meet, a role model who taught martial arts in Lethbridge until the late 90's when he moved to California.

"He's the most outgoing person I know. He loves kids, he's great with his granddaughter, he's super friendly," said his daughter Christina, on the phone from the U.S.

"People have lots of good things to say about him. I just wanted to come out say that he's not the monster everyone is saying. There's another side to the story."

Christina says her father brought his family to Canada in the 1980s, to escape violence and corruption in Guatemala, where he had served in the military.

Lethbridge police say they had been involved in this case since last October, when they received a request for assistance from the RCMP, who in turn, were helping American authorities trying to get him to return to the U.S.

Lethbridge police were expecting Sosa, who was in town visiting family, and arrested him on a sidewalk about 36 hours after he arrived.

Back in Guatemala, it is alleged Sosa was one of the soldiers involved in a massacre where more than 250 men, women, and children were killed.

It's widely considered one of the darkest chapters of Guatemala's 36-year civil war.

Federal authorities say it may be weeks before an extradition hearing is held.

Family members now fear, if Sosa is extradited to the U.S., he will eventually be returned to Guatemala.

For now, Sosa remains in custody in Calgary where he awaits a bail hearing. A justice spokesman says it could take weeks, even months before they get to an extradition hearing.

Sosa is expected to make his first court appearance Thursday in Calgary.