Sex-crime fugitive arrested in Spain
MADRID - Spanish police said on Friday that they had arrested a man on the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 10 most-wanted list for a string of sex trafficking and pornography offences involving minors.
The man, a 40-year-old New Zealander, was arrested after being spotted in a hotel in central Madrid where he was staying under a false name, the police said.
Although they identified him only by his initials, MJP, a source confirmed it was Michael James Pratt who features on the FBI’s list of 10 most-wanted criminals.
Information on his wanted poster on the FBI website – which now shows him as “captured” – said his pornography websites generated more than US$17 million (S$23 million) in revenue and offered a reward of US$100,000 for information leading to his arrest.
Arrested in the US, he was sentenced to life behind bars for child pornography, sexual exploitation, sexual assault and illegal earnings but fled, with an international warrant for his arrest issued in November 2019.
He was wanted for a string of crimes including conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion; production of child pornography and sex trafficking of a minor.
Between 2012 and 2019, Pratt allegedly participated in a conspiracy to recruit young women, including minors, to engage in commercial sex acts by force, fraud and coercion.
He owned and ran a porn production company and allegedly recruited young women and girls from the United States and Canada through false ads for clothed modelling jobs which later turned out to be pornographic productions.
Some were forced to perform sex acts they had refused to engage in and others were allegedly assaulted.
The Spanish police said US investigators had suspected for some time that he was in Spain, but their searches for him, which focused on Barcelona, were unsuccessful. - AFP