Police in Britain and Spain have made 12 arrests in an intercontinental prostitution ring where a criminal gang allegedly used “voodoo rituals” to force African women and girls into sex work.
Investigators believe the gang used voodoo rituals against women and girls to coerce them into sex slavery and to “break their will”, the Mirror reports.
As part of the rituals, the women were forced to eat raw chicken hearts and some had their fingernails and pubic hair pulled out, detectives said.
Police say the women were captured in impoverished parts of Nigeria and the voodoo rituals were used to control them, the women fearing that if they did not comply they or their families would be killed.
Some women are believed to have been ‘recruited’ for jobs, to be illegally smuggled into Europe using fake travel documents, but upon arrival in Italy, were sent to Spain and forced into prostitution to pay off their ‘debt’ to the traffickers.
Girls as young as 13 who were told they would be looking after children or working in hairdressers in Europe were forced into sex slavery.
Marius Stefan, 42, was one of 12 men arrested as part of a probe into rape and modern-day slavery in Southampton. https://t.co/xfEpzBjPxL
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 23, 2017
Eleven arrests were made in Alicante, Cantabria, and Vizcaya in Spain, and Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) made another arrest in Manchester.
The NCA confirmed that the arrested woman, a Spanish national, is suspected of being a “key member” of the organised crime group. NCA officers also detained two Nigerian men aged 34 and 39 on suspicion of immigration and drugs offences.
As well as the 11 arrests in Spain, four sex slaves were safeguarded.
Claiming the network had a “strong structure” in Nigeria, Spain, Italy, and the UK, a spokesman for Spain’s national police said: “The [voodoo] rituals were used to guarantee the submission of the victims and thanks to them, the organisation achieved their aim of control with a simple telephone call without the need for madams in the same place the exploited women were.
“The victims committed through the rituals to paying the debt they’d built up with their journey to Spain and promised not to report the people exploiting them to police.
“They were warned that if they did raise the alarm, they and their families in Nigeria would come to great harm.”
Italy: Mafia and Migrant Gangs Running Heroin and Prostitution Rings Together https://t.co/MCBNbdbvyS
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 28, 2017
Breitbart London reported in the summer that Nigerian migrant gangs are collaborating with the Sicilian Mafia in the organisation of prostitution rackets and the heroin trade. One such gang uses “voodoo rites” to intimidate African women into submission.
In August, human rights analysts at the global risk and strategic consulting firm Verisk Maplecroft warned that the 2015 migrant crisis had increased the risk of slavery incidents in supply chains, with the risk of slavery rising in 20 of the European Union’s 28 member-states.
In 2017, the NCA warned that modern slavery in the UK is “far more prevalent than previously thought” and is affecting “every large town and city” in the country, with the Metropolitan Police saying that the number of victims of modern slavery was expected to increase by 60 per cent in London.