Spanish police break up Nigerian sex-trafficking ring

Spanish police at apartment where Nigerian women forcibly held. Photo: Interior Ministry / Fuenlabrada Noticias
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• Nigerian women, girls subjected to voodoo, then trafficked via Libya, Italy
• Forced to work in Europe as prostitutes to pay 35,000 euros debt to traffickers

The National Police force of Spain’s Interior Ministry have arrested 18 individuals involved with a Nigerian human-trafficking ring that captured women in Nigeria and transported them to Spain via Libya and Italy, then forced them into prostitution in Spain, Italy, Germany and Belgium in order to “pay off their debts” to the traffickers.

The 18 arrests were carried out in Madrid, Tenerife, Bilbao, Cáceres and Benidorm and the police confiscated documents at three locations enabling them to dismantle the network. The operation was reportedly run by two Nigerian nationals living in Alcalá de Henares, near Madrid, where the women were forcibly held and coached on how to apply for asylum in Spain in order to prolong their stay in the country if caught by immigration authorities.

The human-trafficking ring’s modus operandi was reportedly to capture the women in Nigeria and subject them to voodoo rituals in order to frighten and control them, then transport them to Libya and rely on Libyan smugglers working with migrants and refugees to send them across the Mediterannean to Italy on precarious rafts. In Italy, they were provided with fake documents and then flown to Spain where the traffickers made them work as prostitutes to pay off a debt of 35,000 euros. If the women were unable to earn sufficient money in Spain, the traffickers would send them to other European countries to work as sex slaves, Spanish police said.

The human trafficking of Nigerian women for sex-slavery has been a growing problem for Spanish authorities, which last year dismantled two other Nigerian sex-trafficking rings that had exploited more than 50 women and girls. According to Spain’s Interior Ministry, most of the nearly 6,600 people released from slavery by Spanish police from 2012-16 were women forced into prostitution, many of them foreign nationals brought to Spain by traffickers with the specific aim of turning them into sex slaves for profit.

► Read More in Spanish at Europa Press, EFE/El Día and Fuenlabrada Noticias …

► Read More in English at El País and OCCRP …

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