Spanish police have rescued 39 girls from a notorious Nigerian organised crime ring who kept them in a cave-like house and forced them into prostitution in Spain.
According to reports, they were freed in a joint operation involving the UK’s National Crime Agency and Nigeria’s National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons.
The UK’s National Crime Agency, said the victims, many of whom are under 18, had undergone voodoo/juju rituals in Nigeria.
Traffickers have been known to force their victims to undergo voodoo rituals, a means used to establish their hold on them and ensure they never run away or divulge the traffickers’ secret.
From Nigeria the victims “were then moved by boat to Libya and Italy, before arriving in Spain,” the NCA said in a statement on its website.
“The women were forced to live in cave-like houses in unsafe and unsanitary conditions, unable to leave and sexually exploited for the sole purpose of financial gain for the gang leaders, with all money eventually ending up in their hands in Nigeria.”
The statement said a total of 89 people, including the leader of the gang, were arrested in the course of the investigation, with 43 of them remanded in prison.
Among them is a “Nigerian Madame living in Middleton, Greater Manchester, believed to be controlling some of the victims in Spain and paying money to the Organised Criminal Gang (OCG) back in Nigeria.
“She remains in custody awaiting extradition to Spain where she faces prosecution.’’
Tom Dowdall, deputy director, modern slavery and human trafficking threat of the NCA, was quoted to have described the sex trafficking as a “complex and extensive operation with deep-rooted organisation both in Nigeria and Spain.