Minnesota man charged with immigration fraud for failing to disclose his crimes and military service in Bosnia during the Bosnian conflict

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ST.PAUL, Minn. — A former member of the armed forces of the Croatian Defense Council in Bosnia-Herzegovina was arrested Wednesday on immigration fraud charges following an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) St. Paul and the FBI's Minneapolis Field Office.

Zdenko Jakiša, 45, of Forest Lake, Minn., was arrested Wednesday on immigration fraud charges for failing to disclose his military service and the multiple crimes he committed in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the armed conflict there in the 1990s.

The following agency heads announced this indictment and arrest: U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)'s Criminal Division Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O'Neil, U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger of the District of Minnesota, HSI St. Paul Special Agent in Charge J. Michael Netherland, and Special Agent in Charge J. Chris Warrener of the FBI's Minneapolis Field Office.

Jakiša made an initial appearance May 7 in the District of Minnesota; he is scheduled for a detention hearing May 12.

According to the April 21 indictment unsealed May 7, Jakiša, a former member of the armed forces of the Croatian Defense Council in Bosnia-Herzegovina, committed immigration fraud by providing false and fraudulent information about his military service during the Bosnian conflict, his criminal record in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and his commission of crimes of moral turpitude.

Records from Bosnia and Bosnian witnesses indicate that Jakisa committed numerous crimes in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which he did not disclose during his refugee or green card applications. His crimes include murdering an elderly Bosnian Serb woman, and kidnapping, robbing and assaulting a Bosnian Muslim man in September 1993.

ICE's Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC) provided the lead in this investigation. The Criminal Division's Office of International Affairs and its counterparts at the Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina provided valuable assistance.

This case is being prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Matthew C. Singer from DOJ's Criminal Division's Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Nate Petterson of the District of Minnesota.

HSI is committed to rooting out alleged human rights violators who seek a safe haven in the United States. ICE's Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center investigates human rights violators who try to evade justice by seeking shelter in the United States, including those who have participated in war crimes and acts of genocide, torture, the use of child soldiers and extrajudicial killings. These individuals may conceal their past to enter the country and attempt to blend into communities in the United States.

Members of the public who have information about former human rights violators in the United States are urged to contact U.S. law enforcement through the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section at hrsptips@usdoj.gov, toll-free at 1-800-813-5863, the HSI tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE, or to complete its online tip form. To learn more about the assistance available to victims in these cases, the public should contact HSI's confidential victim-witness toll-free number at 1-866-872-4973. Tips may be provided anonymously.

Since fiscal year 2004, ICE has arrested more than 290 individuals for human rights-related violations under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders and physically removed more than 650 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States. Currently, HSI has more than 165 active investigations and ICE is pursuing more than 1,800 leads and removal cases involving suspected human rights violators from 97 different countries.

Over the last four years, ICE's HRVWCC has issued more than 20,000 lookouts for people from more than 111 countries and stopped 124 human rights violators or war crime suspects from entering the United States.The charges in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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