KIRKLAND — U.S. marshals have arrested a convicted Bulgarian fugitive and human trafficker in Kirkland.
The U.S. Marshals Service said Plamen Vladimirov Trifonoy, 58, was convicted in Bulgaria in 2002 and sentenced to eight years in prison for causing the deaths of 18 Sri Lankans who suffocated in the back of a cargo truck in 1995.
Trifonoy, who allegedly immigrated illegally to the United States in 2005, had been working as a long-haul trucker in Washington state. The Pacific Northwest Violent Offender Task Force arrested the man last week. He’ll appear before a U.S. magistrate for an extradition and detention hearing on Nov. 1.
Trifonov was arrested after federal authorities found he had been living in the Seattle area. In 1995, authorities say Trifonov drove a truck cargo container loaded with 40 Sri Lankan nationals into Hungary from Romania. The truck was found later with 18 bodies inside.
Authorities say the container became so hot that the people inside tried to pop a hole in the roof for air. Police believe Trifonoy eventually found the bodies, abandoned the surviving passengers and hitchhiked back to Bulgaria.
Bulgaria first contacted the U.S. State Department about the extradition in May, officials said.