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Press Release

Man sentenced to prison for international parental kidnapping of two small children

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Florida

MIAMI – On April 23, a man was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison for the international parental kidnapping of his two young daughters to Morocco and Turkey. 

In August 2019, the children’s mother asked the defendant for a divorce. While the children’s mother was in the Dominican Republic, Hamilton Alexander Merilus, aka Salahudin Sabah Alexander Amhadulla-Merilus, 43, fraudulently obtained full custody of their two small children—then two and four. To fraudulently obtain custody of the children, Merilus lied to a Broward County Circuit Court judge claiming that the children’s mother had abandoned the family and he was unaware of her whereabouts.

While the children’s mother was in the Dominican Republic, Merilus sent her an audio message stating that she would never see her children again and that he would do his best to “disappear.”

When the children’s mother returned to the United States, she was unable to locate Merilus or their children. After she learned that Merilus had fraudulently obtained full custody of the children, she filed for and obtained joint and ultimately full custody of the two children; Merilus purposefully ignored the court’s orders.

On Nov. 7, 2022, Merilus left the United States and flew with the children to Morocco. After Moroccan authorities conducted a wellness check in July 2023, Merilus flew with the children to Antalya, Turkey to continue evading authorities.

During the international kidnapping, Merilus left the two small children behind in Morocco and Turkey on at least three occasions. In those instances, he traveled to the United States and claimed that the children were with their mother. On another occasion, Merilus said that they were with his mother in Jacksonville, Florida. Merilus was arrested in Arizona on Aug. 9, 2023.

On Oct. 5, 2023, after over four years apart, the two children now nine and seven, were reunited with their mother in Turkey.

U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida and Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey B. Veltri of the FBI, Miami Field Office, announced the sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Raag Singhal. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexandra D. Comolli and Stephanie Hauser prosecuted this case. 

FBI Miami investigated the case with assistance from the FBI’s Legal Attaché Offices in Ankara and Rabat.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood (PSC), a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals, who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims.  For more information about the Project Safe Childhood initiative and for information regarding Internet safety, please visit

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or at, under case number 23-cr-60154.



Public Affairs Unit

U.S. Attorney’s Office

Southern District of Florida

Updated April 25, 2024

Project Safe Childhood
Violent Crime