Interpol says 'world's most wanted' human trafficker arrested in Sudan

AFP - FETHI BELAID

An Eritrean national described as the "world’s most wanted″ human trafficker has been arrested in Sudan after an international search led by the United Arab Emirates, Interpol has announced.

The suspect, identified as Kidane Zekarias Habtemariam, is accused of leading a criminal organisation that abducts, extorts and murders East African migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Libya, the France-based police agency said in an online statement.

Habtemariam was arrested on Sunday in a ″major international police operation led by the United Arab Emirates, based on information shared via Interpol,″ said a statement from the UAE’s Ministry of Interior.

He was "wanted for leading a criminal organization which over several years, kidnapped, mistreated and extorted East African migrants to smuggle them into Europe," according to the UAE.

Lt-Gen Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE's Minister of Interior, called the "global police operation led by the UAE" a "success". The operation lasted nine months and also involved Dutch, Ethiopian and Sudanese authorities.

A breakthrough in the hunt came after UAE authorities began closely tracking Habtemariam's organisation and members of his family, uncovering money laundering patterns that led them to Sudan, the agency said.

Interpol first began monitoring Habtemariam’s activities in 2019.

Camp in Libya

Libya has in recent years emerged as the dominant transit point for migrants seeking a better quality of life in Europe.

(with AP)


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