EXCLUSIVE: Inside story of how a private investigator helped an Australian dad track down a twisted African crime lord who killed his daughter - by planting a sex worker in the gang leader's harem to tape his every word
A private detective took just a month to track down the African crime lord believed to have murdered Australian tourist Elly Warren.
Elly, 20, was on a diving and volunteering program when she was killed during a night out in the Mozambique tourist village of Tofo in November 2016.
Local police have spent the four years since doing almost nothing to solve the case, leaving her father Paul Warren to spend $50,000 on his own search.
Finally he turned to German investigator Nick Greger, who identified the prime suspect in just two days.
Mr Greger planted a sex worker in the court of a local drug kingpin known as 'Tony', and secretly recorded him bragging about crime and murder.
When he first heard about Elly's tragic death in June, Mr Greger reached out to Mr Warren and offered his bounty hunter service free of charge.
'I got trained to track down wanted criminals by working with various groups in Africa, so I understand their movements,' he said.
'Finding people like this has simply become routine for me after all the years.'
The covert operation code-named Student was carried out by Mr Greger from Germany as coronavirus travel bans prevented him from traveling to Africa.
Local sex workers were quizzed over Zoom on whether they'd be interested in cosying up to a crime lord as part of an international operation to catch a murderer.
'It didn't make sense to send a white person there because they would garner too much attention and the locals who live in fear of these gangs and are not going to say anything,' Mr Greger said.
'So I come up with a plan to recruit a local woman to befriend the prime suspect.'
Mr Geger gave his contact on the ground an idea of what kind of girl he was looking for but the first few women he spoke to were 'not bad enough and not ruthless enough'.
But eventually he found the perfect candidate.
'She comes from the kind of environment where killers and gangsters are not a rare thing,' Mr Greger said.
'So when I described the mission she was not scared at all. She was absolutely relaxed.'
Mr Greger was acting on a tip-off Mr Warren was given by a South African woman who holidayed in Tofu during March.
She wrote to him on Facebook and said she was quietly warned to 'stay away' from a group of people that locals believed were responsible for Elly's death.
The woman said 'Tony', who had distinctive tattoos and hung out in a bar next to Branco’s pizza place, and his crew were notorious for drugging and robbing tourists.
Armed only with this mysterious tip, it took Mr Greger just two days to identify the prime suspect and eight days to plan the mission.
It would be another two weeks before their plant would make contact with the suspect.
The original plan was for the sex worker to bring up Elly by casually mentioning seeing a photo of her Mr Warren had posted near where she died.
But the photo had since been torn down, and as it would be too suspicious to bring her up out of the blue, they had to settle for more indirect evidence.
She made inroads quickly on the local gangster whose main business ventures involve cross-border drug smuggling, robbing tourists and running prostitution rings.
After four weeks in his company she recorded him bragging about being a 'gangster', selling cocaine and speaking about killing.
In the end, the brave woman had to flee because the situation got 'too dangerous'.
'I don't want to hurt you. I want to love you but don't treat me like a fool,' he told her in a secret recording.
'I'm a gangster. I do what I like. I come from the dirtiest ghetto in Africa.
'Imagine me cutting your neck, and cutting your hands and your legs.
'How will I feel tomorrow? I won't feel good. Because now I can't call you, I can't say, "Hey, que pasa?", because I kill you. How do I live with myself.'
Mr Warren hopes the partial confession will spark local authorities to act after originally declaring her death an accident.
'Elly was a perfect daughter. I am so proud of her,' Mr Warren told Daily Mail Australia.
'She loved to travel and she was very confident and mature.She loved Africa, she just fell in love with the place.'
From what Mr Greger and Mr Warren learned in their investigations, it appeared Elly was the victim of a robbery gone wrong.
Post-mortems found Elly asphyxiated from inhaling beach sand - not the black sand behind the grubby toilet block where her body was found.
She was also found to have not been sexually assaulted, but photographs of her body seen by Mr Warren showed signs of a struggle.
'Tony' and at least one of his henchmen are believed to have tried to rob her on the main beach of Tofo and accidentally killed her as she resisted.
Sometime before a fisherman found her body about 5am, she was moved about 100m - either by the gang or by locals not wanting negative attention on the beach.
Elly's killers would have known the local police, wanting to protect tourism, would cover it up and blame it on misadventure.
The police investigation was a debacle from day one, as evidence was either not properly collected or disappeared - including the black singlet she was wearing that was ripped down her right side.
While privately realising Elly's death was a homicide, they repeatedly told Mr Warren and much of the outside world that she fell over and choked on the sand.
This was despite no drugs being found in her system.
Grazes were also found onElly’s neck, along with bruising on her mouth and in the muscles on the left side of her neck.
Mr Warren handed over a full brief of intelligence on the gang leader to consular officials in the Australian embassy in Pretoria, South Africa.
But he said Australian authorities are not doing enough to solve the case, which compelled him to start his own investigation.
Recently the AFP wrote to him urging that he give up his pursuing his own lines of inquiry into Elly's death, stating that it may jeopardise ongoing investigations.
'The Australian Government has been very disappointing with their lack of action and lack of interest to help Elly’s Family,' Mr Warren said.
'The AFP and the Department of Foreign Affairs should also be ashamed of themselves.'
He has called on Australian authorities to use their diplomatic leverage to bring a resolution and said DNA from the man in the recordings should be tested against the clothing Elly was wearing at the time of her death.
The AFP have told Daily Mail they continue to liaise with DFAT and Mozambique authorities.
However, they have little power over the situation and do not have any jurisdiction in the ongoing investigation.