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May 31, 2023Tucson, AZ, United StatesDocument and Benefit Fraud, Human Rights Violators

Man convicted of immigration fraud after lying about atrocities committed during Bosnian Civil War following HSI Tucson investigation

TUCSON, Ariz. — On May 19, after a nine-day jury trial, a federal judge convicted a Tucson man of charges related to visa fraud and attempted unlawful procurement of citizenship. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and its Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC) investigated the case.

“When a person attempts to become a U.S. citizen under false pretenses, it jeopardizes our naturalization process — and it is especially damaging to those who faithfully follow the judicial system,” said HSI Arizona Special Agent in Charge Scott Brown. “Simply put, those who knowingly and willfully misrepresent themselves, especially those who are considered national security threats, war criminals and human rights violators, to try and obtain U.S. citizenship status, will be held accountable for their deceitful actions. This defendant was found guilty due to the unwavering commitment by those who investigated and are prosecuting this case.”

In 2009, HSI special agents launched an investigation after receiving a roster of a police brigade suspected of various atrocities during the 1990s war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The roster included Sinisa Djurdjic’s name; Djurdjic immigrated to the United States in 2000. HSI discovered that, on various U.S. immigration applications, Djurdjic had denied serving in foreign military and police units. The multiyear international investigation confirmed that Djurdjic was indeed a member of the police brigade and other Bosnian-Serb military units and that he harmed prisoners in his custody.

HSI agents traveled to Bosnia on multiple occasions and interviewed dozens of witnesses. They also collected documentation from the Bosnian and Serbian governments, and from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. Agents discovered that Djurdjic was a prison guard at two prison camps established north of Sarajevo by Republika Srpska, the Bosnian-Serb entity that espoused the idea of ethnic cleansing during the civil war and sought to exclude all Bosnian Muslims and Catholic Croats from certain areas of Bosnia.

During the trial, five Bosnian men who were held at the prison camps testified on the abuses they suffered or witnessed at Djurdjic’s hands. The United States presented extensive documentation demonstrating that Djurdjic had lied on various immigration applications about his previous military and police service and had intentionally misled U.S. immigration officials about his past to gain legal status in the United States.

Djurdjic’s sentencing hearing is set for Aug. 8.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Liza Granoff and Kevin Schiff for the District of Arizona in Tucson prosecuted the case.

Established in 2008, the HRVWCC furthers HSI’s efforts to identify, locate and prosecute human rights abusers in the United States, including those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, female genital mutilation and the use or recruitment of child soldiers. 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.

Currently, HSI has more than 160 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,700 leads and removals cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. Since 2003, the HRVWCC has issued more than 78,000 lookouts for individuals and stopped over 350 human rights violators and war crimes suspects from entering 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 HSI tip line at 866-347-2423. Callers may remain anonymous. Individuals can also fill out the online tip form.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.