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Human Rights Violators

Bosnian national charged with immigration fraud for concealing military service

MILWAUKEE - A Bosnian national residing in Milwaukee was charged with concealing his prior military service to illegally enter the United States. He allegedly failed to disclose on his immigration applications that he had served in the Bosnian military which was involved in the genocide of thousands of Bosnian Muslims in 1995. The charges resulted from an investigation conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Mladjen Cvijanovic, 46, was charged Dec. 7 in the Eastern District of Wisconsin with immigration fraud in connection with his admission into the United States and his application for a green card.

According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, Cvinjanovic possessed an alien registration receipt card, commonly known as a "green card," which had been obtained by fraud. The complaint alleges that Cvijanovic served as a member of a police unit in Bosnia-Herzegovina before and during the massacre of thousands of Bosnian Muslims in and around Srebrenica in July 1995. Because the police units were subordinated to the military during the conflict, Cvijanovic and his unit were dispatched to the war zone to provide military support to the Army of the Repulik of Srpskaa.

The complaint alleges that in 2002, Cvijanovic lied about and concealed his occupation as a police officer in Bosnia-Herzegovina and his true residency when applying for an immigration benefit. The complaint further alleges that in 2003, when applying for permanent residency, Cvijanovic again lied about and concealed his service as a police officer and about where he had been living before coming to the United States, falsely claiming that he had been living in Serbia.

According to First Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Haanstad, "The Justice Department and the Office of the United States Attorney are committed to the vigorous enforcement of our country's immigration laws. A key component of that effort is the investigation and prosecution of cases involving attempts to obtain residence in the United States through fraud."

"A top priority for this agency is to ensure that our nation's immigration system is not exploited by those who seek to illegally gain refuge in the United States by concealing their past," said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Chicago. "We aggressively investigate individuals who enter this country under false pretenses, especially those who hide their military past."

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel H. Sanders and Elizabeth Blackwood, Eastern District of Wisconsin, are prosecuting the case. If convicted, Cvijanovic faces up to10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

A criminal complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

ICE's Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit (HRVWCU) places a high priority in investigating human rights violators, including those who have participated in war crimes and acts of genocide, torture, extra-judicial killings, and violations of religious freedom, who frequently seek to evade justice by seeking shelter in the United States. These individuals may assume fraudulent identities to enter the country, seeking to blend into communities inside the U.S.

As October 2010, ICE has over 200 active investigations and is pursuing over 1,400 leads and removal cases involving suspects from approximately 95 different countries. These cases are predominantly focused on Central and South America, Haiti, the former Yugoslavia and Africa. They represent cases in various stages of investigation, prosecution or removal proceedings.