Authorities in Spain arrested an alleged pornography website owner who was on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list last week, the bureau said Friday.
Michael James Pratt, 40, faces a 19-count indictment, including counts of sex trafficking, production of child pornography, sex trafficking of a minor, and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, in connection with the operation of the GirlsDoPorn adult website. Spanish National Police arrested Pratt in Madrid on Wednesday pursuant to an Interpol Red Notice seeking his detention, per an FBI bulletin.
“The capture of Michael Pratt is an example of how the FBI will pursue justice beyond U.S. borders — you can run but you can’t hide,” said Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Stacey Moy of the FBI San Diego Field Office. “Thank you to our determined FBI San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force and to our federal and international partners for their commitment to making sure that Michael Pratt is brought to justice.”
Spanish authorities have captured #FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive Michael James Pratt in Madrid, Spain. Pratt has been a fugitive since 2019 and was wanted for sex trafficking and the production of child pornography. https://t.co/LYeXNDp39M pic.twitter.com/hPj10GbzsM
— FBI (@FBI) December 23, 2022
The FBI said Pratt is being held in Spain pending extradition.
Spanish National Police tweeted a video on Friday that it said showed the arrest of a New Zealand fugitive on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list. Though the tweet did not identify the individual, Pratt is the only person on that FBI list who is from New Zealand.
Fue condenado a cadena perpetua en #EEUU por delitos de pornografía infantil, explotación sexual, agresión sexual y ganancias ilícitas, llegando a ganar +17 millones de dólares pic.twitter.com/E9uLKMaGw9
— Policía Nacional (@policia) December 23, 2022
Pratt is accused of participating in a conspiracy to recruit young adult and minor women from United States and Canada to engage in commercial sex acts by force, fraud, and coercion from 2012 to 2019.
The FBI said Pratt and a co-conspirator owned and operated a pornography production company and two online pornography websites. They allegedly recruited their victims though deceiving internet advertisements for clothed modeling jobs.
“Pratt also allegedly paid other young women working at his and his co-conspirators’ direction to act as references and provide false assurances to the women that, if they filmed a pornographic video, the video would not be posted online,” the FBI said. “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.”
The porn websites allegedly run by Pratt generated more than $17 million in revenue, according to the FBI.
Another alleged owner of the website, Matthew Isaac Wolfe, as well as adult film performer and producer Ruben Andre Garcia and administrative assistant Valorie Moser, were additionally charged in the alleged sex trafficking conspiracy. Wolfe pleaded guilty in July 2022. They faced up to life in prison, per a Justice Department announcement in October 2019.
A judge in San Diego awarded $12.775 million to 22 unnamed women who sued the GirlsDoPorn production company in a class action lawsuit alleging it defrauded and coerced them into performing adult scenes, the Daily Beast reported in January 2020.
A federal arrest warrant was issued for Pratt in the United States District Court, Southern District of California, on November 6, 2019. The FBI added Pratt to its “Ten Most Wanted Fugitive List” in September, offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to his arrest.
“This was a despicable crime that has devastated its victims,” U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said in a statement at the time.