SPAIN’S National Police force has detained one of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives, Michael J. Pratt. The suspect, a 40-year-old from New Zealand, was given life imprisonment in the United States for child pornography offences, sexual assault and illicit income of more than €16 million, among other crimes, before he absconded.
On December 21, the fugitive was located in a hotel in central Madrid, where he was staying under one of the many false identities he used to avoid detection. The arrest was made after a joint operation by the National Police, the FBI, the US Marshalls and Interpol.
According to the FBI’s website, ‘from approximately 2012 to 2019, Michael James Pratt and others allegedly participated in a conspiracy to recruit young adult and minor women to engage in commercial sex acts by force, fraud and coercion’.
Pratt and his co-conspirators are alleged to have recruited young women by posting false internet advertisements for clothed modelling jobs, which the victims later discovered were pornographic productions.
‘Some women were allegedly not permitted to leave the shooting locations until the videos were completed, others were allegedly forced to perform sex acts they had declined to perform, and some women were allegedly sexually assaulted,’ according to the FBI.
The detention of Pratt marks the first time that a criminal from the FBI’s list has been caught in Spain. Most of the outlaws who feature are usually found in the US, and only 57 have been captured in other countries.