Police arrest in Spain one of FBI most wanted fugitives

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MADRID (Reuters) – Spanish police on Friday said they had arrested one of the U.S. FBI’s Ten Most Wanted fugitives, who was staying at a hotel in Madrid under a false identity. 

Michael James Pratt, a New Zealand citizen, had been sentenced to life in prison for child pornography, sexual exploitation and sexual assault in the United States.

Police said he was involved in the audiovisual production of pornography, recruiting underage girls and young women through deception between 2012 and 2019. He earned more than $17 million with those activities. 

Only 57 criminals on the FBI’s Most Wanted list have been apprehended outside the bureau’s jurisdiction, Spanish authorities said, adding that it was the first time this has occurred in Spain.

Police said the fugitive placed online advertisements offering “modelling” jobs, which turned out to be pornographic recordings.

He paid other women to act as “bait” and convince the victims the recorded material would not be published online.

Sometimes, victims were held against their will and forced to perform sexual practices to which they had previously expressly refused consent, police said.

Reporting by Emma Pinedo; Editing by David Latona and Jonathan Oatis

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