On June 1, 2011, Albanian police arrested an ethnic Albanian from neighboring Kosovo who was wanted by the United States on human trafficking charges. Police identified the man as 53-year-old Deme Nikqi alias Hektor Kelmendi. He was arrested at the northeastern Morini border crossing coming from Kosovo with a Serb passport.
An international arrest warrant was issued for Nikqi following the May 2010 charges in a New York court. Albanian authorities completed documentation for his extradition and on January 6, 2012 he was extradited to the U.S. (1)
Nikqi was the leader and organizer of an international criminal network dedicated to smuggling Kosovars from the Balkans into the United States via Latin America. According to court documents, Nikqi and his co-conspirators are estimated 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.
According to court documents, Nikqi typically charged individuals over 12,000 Euros each; in return, he would supply them with fraudulent passports and visas, as necessary, and arrange flights from various locations in Europe to Cancun, Mexico, San Jose, Costa Rica, and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Working with co-conspirators in these countries, Nikqi allegedly arranged overland transportation through Central America, Mexico and then into the United States.
On February 2, 2010, a car transporting three Kosovars and other Latin Americans crashed while being pursued by Texas Highway Patrol in the area of Laredo, Texas. One Kosovar and one Salvadoran national were killed, and several others in the same vehicle were severely injured.
On August 13, 2012, he plead guilty to six counts of the indictment and was sentenced to 324 months in Federal prison. (2)
Deme Nikqi BOP Register Number 65874-053 was successfully treaty transferred back to Kosovo on September 30, 2014. (3)