According to the Seattle Times, a Bulgarian truck driver and human trafficker, who was convicted of the deaths of 18 Sri Lankan immigrants, has been arrested in Kirkland, Washington.
Last week, the Pacific Northwest Violent Offender Task Force arrested Plamen Vladimirov Trifonov, 58. He is currently being detained and awaiting a November 1, extradition hearing.
In 2002, Trifonov was tried and convicted of negligent homicide after 18 of the immigrants he was smuggling suffocated in the back of a cargo truck. He was sentenced to eight years in prison for the deaths.
According to Reuters, the truck grew so hot that the victims punctured a hole in the roof of the trailer. It is estimated that 40 immigrants were packed into the hot trailer.
When Trifonov reached his destination and opened the trailer door, he found that nearly half of the passengers had died. He fled the scene, leaving the immigrants and the deceased behind and hitchhiked back to Bulgaria.
To avoid jail, Trifonov fled the country and, in 2005, he illegally immigrated to the U.S. In 2006, Trifonov was captured by U.S. immigration agents and was facing deportation.
At that time, authorities were unaware that Trifonov was a fugitive, and it wasn’t until 2009 that the U.S. and Bulgaria signed an extradition treaty in 2009.
Up until his arrest last week, Trifonov was able to continue working as a truck driver in the United States. Officials have not revealed which company Trifonov was driving for.