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“Black Death Group” Kidnapper Loses Extradition Appeal

Even though the Black Death Group’s “kidnapping” of the Instagram model Chloe Ayling was undoubtedly a publicity stunt, Italian authorities have continued to chase down the brother of the alleged kidnappers. Michal Herba, 37, was arrested by the National Crime Agency in England last year after Ayling accused both Michal and Lukasz Herba of kidnapping her for an auction on a non-existent darknet site. Michal Herba challenged the European arrest warrant that ordered his extradition to Italy due to the lack of information the warrant contained. Two High Court judges just dismissed Michal Herba’s appeal, effectively enforcing his extradition to Milan.

In 2017, Ayling entered the world after a one-week disappearance with a claim that changed her life: she said that as many as six men had lured her to a fake photoshoot in Milan, kidnapped her, and had planned to auction her on a human trafficking site on the darknet. Her story surfaced after she walked into an embassy—with one of her alleged kidnappers—and explained her situation.

Italian authorities arrested her alleged kidnapper who had kindly bought clothes and food for Ayling before entering the embassy and turning himself over to the police. The police took equally ludicrous statements from both Ayling and her kind kidnapper—Lukasz Herba. Although Ayling backtracked and contradicted herself multiple times, Lukasz Herba gave the police dozens of variations of far more absurd statements. He went from working for the human trafficking organization called the “Black Death Group” to working undercover to help Ayling escape.

Timeline: British Model Supposedly Kidnapped for Darknet Auction

The Black Death Group, as far as Europol and many established researchers know, never existed beyond a hoax and a hidden service with a static frontage. Contrary to the claims made by Ayling, the so-called “Black Death Group” never hired mercenaries to kidnap women and sell them on the darknet. A human trafficking group under the same name could have existed. And human trafficking could be facilitated through secret channels on the darknet. But authorities quickly learned that Herba had fictionalized his position as a Black Death Group mercenary.

But Ayling had disappeared for a week and Herba had initially backed up her claims. Ayling later told the police that Lukasz Herba’s older brother, Michal, had aided in the kidnapping. Italian authorities issued an arrest warrant that accused Michal of being “complicit” in the alleged kidnapping. The NCA arrested Michal in late 2017. Since his arrest, Michal has repeatedly attempted to fight extradition to Italy due to the arrest warrant’s vague terminology. He argued that “being complicit” in a crime was not specific enough for extradition. At first, the courts seemingly agreed with Michal. The media’s coverage of the case certainly helped.

However, at a recent hearing, Lady Justice Sharp dismissed his appeal and concluded that “being complicit” was explicit enough for extradition. She told him that he had 14 days to appeal his case before the Supreme Court. Otherwise, Michal Herba will be heading to Italy to stand trial for allegedly helping his brother kidnap a model.


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