Zeljko Savija, 47, of Tonawanda, N.Y., was arrested by HSI special agents Wednesday. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
On Jan. 4, 2010, Savija re-entered the United States from Canada at the Peace Bridge and presented a lawful permanent resident alien registration receipt card, or "Green Card." According to court documents, Savija obtained the Green Card by making false statements in the application process. The government alleges that Savija failed to disclose certain military service in the armed forces of the former Republic of Yugoslavia and subsequently received a Green Card granting him lawful permanent residence in the United States.
"Those who commit human rights abuses abroad cannot subvert U.S. immigration laws in order to take shelter in the United States," said James Spero, special agent in charge of HSI Buffalo. "Homeland Security Investigations and our law enforcement partners are firmly committed to denying human rights abusers entrance into this country, weeding out those that are already here, and will enforce this U.S. government policy of no safe haven for human rights violators."
ICE's Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC) investigates human rights violators, including those who have participated in war crimes and acts of genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, and the recruitment and use of child soldiers, who try 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 United States. Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to call the ICE tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE (1-866-347-2423) or complete the agency's online tip form. To learn more about the assistance available to victims in these cases, the public should contact ICE's confidential victim-witness toll-free number at 1-866-872-4973.
HSI has more than 200 active investigations and is pursuing over 1,900 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.