WASHINGTON – A Jacksonville, Florida, man was sentenced Monday to 18 months in prison and his U.S. citizenship was revoked for unlawfully obtaining that status by failing to disclose – during his naturalization process – his membership in the Bosnian Army and crimes that he committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Bosnian Conflict in the 1990s.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Jacksonville office under the supervision of the HSI Tampa office, with support from ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC).
According to the plea agreement, in 1993, Slobo Maric, 56, served as a shift leader of a detention facility in Bosnia that housed captured Bosnian-Croat soldiers. Many of the guards in the facility routinely subjected detainees to serious physical abuse and humiliation. Maric selected detainees for other guards to abuse, directly participated in abusing several prisoners and sent prisoners on dangerous and deadly work details on the front line of the conflict.
The Bosnian government charged Maric for his criminal conduct and, after Maric immigrated to the United States, Bosnia indicted and convicted Maric in absentia for war crimes against prisoners. According to the plea agreement, Maric knew about the Bosnian court proceedings, yet he failed to disclose the proceedings and lied about his conduct on his application for U.S. citizenship. Maric became a naturalized U.S. citizen Oct. 31, 2002.
ICE’s HRVWCC was established in 2009 to further ICE’s efforts to identify, track and prosecute human rights abusers. The HRVWCC leverages the expertise of a select group of agents, lawyers, intelligence and research specialists, historians and analysts who direct the agency’s broader enforcement efforts against these offenders.
Since 2003, ICE has arrested more than 380 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders against and physically removed 785 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States. Additionally, ICE has facilitated the departure of an additional 108 such individuals from the United States.
Currently, HSI has more than 160 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,750 leads and removals cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. Since 2003, the HRVWCC has issued more than 70,400 lookouts for individuals from more than 110 countries and stopped 213 human rights violators and war crimes suspects from entering the U.S.
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-2423 (1-866-347-2423). Callers may remain anonymous. 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.You can learn more about ICE’s mission to enforce federal laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration to promote homeland security and public safety at www.ICE.gov.
This sentencing was announced by Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District of Florida. Maric was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard of the Middle District of Florida. On July 18, 2016, Maric pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge James R. Klindt of the Middle District of Florida to one count of unlawful procurement of naturalization.
Trial Attorney Clayton O’Connor and Historian David Rich of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Dale Campion of the Middle District of Florida prosecuted the case.