Bosnian human rights abuser pleads guilty to immigration fraud

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WASHINGTON – A Bosnian Serb residing in Charlotte, North Carolina pleaded guilty today to lying to obtain lawful permanent resident status by concealing his military status and criminal activity during the war in Bosnia.  This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with support from ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC).

Milan Trisic, 54, pleaded guilty to a single count of obtaining a Permanent Resident Card, commonly referred to as a “green card,” by making materially false claims and statements.

According to the plea agreement, Trisic admitted that he served in the Army of the Serb Republic as a member of the Bratunac Brigade during various tours of duty between April 1992 and January 1996, when Bosnia and Herzegovina was in the midst of a civil war. The Bratunac Brigade, operating primarily in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina, was one of the military units responsible for the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre that resulted in the deaths of between 7,000 and 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys. Trisic admitted that he engaged in various unlawful activities while serving with the Bratunac Brigade, such as the beating, detention and transportation of Muslim prisoners.

In order to obtain status in the United States, Trisic admitted that he knowingly lied when he claimed to reside in Serbia during the war, when in fact he actually resided in Bratunac, Bosnia.

"The United States will not be a safe haven for those who commit atrocities abroad," said acting HSI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Gregory L. Wiest. "We will continue to work closely with our international partners to relentlessly pursue such criminals.”

Sentencing is not yet scheduled.  As part the plea agreement, Trisic will be ordered removed from the United States upon completion of his sentence.

The HRVWCC was established in 2009 to further ICE’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. 

Since 2003, ICE has arrested more than 395 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 835 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States.  Additionally, ICE has facilitated the departure of an additional 112 such individuals from the United States.

Currently, HSI has more than 130 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 Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center has issued more than 74,000 lookouts for individuals from more than 110 countries and stopped over 234 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.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan and HSI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Nick Annan made the announcement of the guilty plea. Trial Attorneys Frank G. Rangoussis and Ann Marie Ursini of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Smith from the Western District of North Carolina are prosecuting the case.

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