The Spanish National Police, supported by Europol, have safeguarded 16 Nigerian women who were forced into prostitution in Zaragoza (Spain), and have arrested 11 members of a criminal network. The organised group operated from Europe, mainly in Spain, Italy, Germany and Denmark.
The women were recruited in the city of Benin in Nigeria, under false promises of a better life in Europe. Once recruited, they were trafficked to Spain, by using land routes to Libya, and from there to Italy by sea. Once on the Spanish territory they were handed over to a madam and forced into prostitution until they paid off their debt.
During an action day in Spain, Europol supported the investigation on the ground by deploying an analyst to Zaragoza equipped with a mobile office and a data extraction device. This allowed for real-time information exchange and cross-checks of the data gathered during the course of the action against Europol’s databases.
Voodoo threats used by human traffickers
The victims were coerced under voodoo threats by which they pledged to pay the debt incurred and not to denounce their exploiters to the police. This method, used by criminal organisations with women from Western Africa, aims to control women under threat of death for them or their family members if they do not comply with that commitment.
Victims can be controlled even through telephone conversations, making it unnecessary for the madams to be in the same physical location where the women are being exploited.