Spanish Police Arrest Two Suspected Sex Traffickers of Nigerian Women
Spanish authorities arrested on Friday two people alleged to be involved in a human trafficking network that used voodoo rituals to turn Nigerian women into sex slaves.
National Police forces arrested the suspects in Valencia, where they also found and rescued one of their victims. The investigation traced the rescued victim’s origin to Benin City, Nigeria, where she was captured by persons tied to the alleged human traffickers in Spain.
Whilst in captivity, awaiting forced transport to Spain, the kidnappers force the women to endure a voodoo ritual. Through supposed magical practices, the victims are indoctrinated into believing that unless they fully submit to the will of their captors, both they and their families will be murdered.
This death threat also applies to any attempts made to escape, seek out help, or go to the police. Essentially, the kidnappers’ voodoo rituals mentally break their victims, bending their will to ensure their fidelity and total obedience.
Afterwards, they are forcibly transported to Tripoli, Libya, where they are imprisoned until travel to Italy by boat becomes available. From there, they are flown to Spain with falsified travel documents.
Upon reaching their final destination, they are informed that they owe the organization a debt of 38,500 euros (US$43,825), which must be paid through prostitution.
The ever-present threat of death upon both themselves and their families keeps the captured women in a constant state of vulnerability and desperation.
Such Nigerian human trafficking and prostitution networks have been encountered and dismantled by Spanish police multiple times in the past.
In 2017, Spanish and Moroccan authorities arrested 10 people suspected of having trafficked dozens of Nigerian women to Spain and enslaving them into prostitution for as little as five euros per client.
The women were forced to prostitute themselves for more than 12 hours per day and were severely punished if they did not earn enough before returning.
Authorities said the alleged slavers utilized a rigid system of fines wherein they continuously increased the debt owed to them by their victims.
It wasn’t until the rescue of a 16-year-old girl in 2015 when police caught wind of the network’s activities in Torrevieja, a city in Spain's south-eastern Alicante province.
Likewise, in 2016, Spanish police dismantled two Nigerian sex trafficking rings that had enslaved and prostituted approximately 50 women and girls.
Police were informed of the rings by an escaped victim who said she was captured in Nigeria and trafficked to Spain to be coerced into prostitution in Torrevieja.
These women were also subjected to voodoo rituals; in this case, they were forced to swallow dirty water with sand and subjected to humiliation while nude.
Upon following the network’s money trail, which investigators estimated to be in excess of one million euros, police said the suspects had invested the majority of their ill-gotten gains back in Nigeria to finance new trafficking and enslaving operations.
The investigation led to the arrest of 30 suspects and the rescue of 18 captured women.