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Press Release

Extradition of alleged human smuggling to the United States

13 January 2012

On Friday 6 January 2012, Deme Nikqi, from Peja/Pec, was extradited from Albania to the United States to face charges related to his alleged leadership of an international human smuggling network. EULEX provided assistance to judicial authorities in the United States, based on its own investigation involving Mr Nikqi.

Mr. Nikqi was apprehended by Albanian authorities on Oct. 4, 2011, on the basis of an Interpol Red Notice while he was crossing the border from Kosovo into Albania. According to US court documents, Mr Nikqi is alleged to have smuggled hundreds of individuals across the Mexican border and into the United States each year. One of Nikqi’s smuggling operations allegedly resulted in the death of a Kosovar in Texas in 2010.

Parallel to these investigations by the US authorities, EULEX prosecutors are conducting their own investigation into human trafficking, which relates to Mr Nikqi. Mr Nikqi and alleged co-perpetrators are suspected of having smuggled an unknown number of Kosovars to North America by providing them with false passports and indicating them which route they had to follow. In exchange, the smuggled individuals had to pay large sums of money up to fifteen thousand euros per person.

As part of this investigation four individuals from the Peja/Pec and Mitrovicë/Mitrovica region were arrested on 7 December 2011 by Kosovo Police and their houses searched. This police operation was headed by a EULEX prosecutor and duly authorised by a local pre-trial judge.

Currently these four individuals are in detention on remand until March 2012. EULEX prosecutors continue their cooperation with US judicial authorities in this case. The investigation is still in a pre-trial phase.