Italian Police Arrest Madame Behind Ju-Ju Sex Trafficking Ring

Published: 17 February 2023

Human Trafficking HandcuffsItalian police reported the arrest of a ‘Madame’ behind a Nigerian sex trafficking ring. (Photo: Global Panorama, Flickr, License)

By Henry Pope

Italian police arrested a Nigerian woman who is believed to be the ‘Madame’ of a sex trafficking ring that engages in “Ju-Ju” or voodoo rituals in order to indoctrinate its victims into total submission.

The woman was detained Tuesday on charges of human trafficking, prostitution, and money laundering, state police reported.

Such madames often recruit young women, and even children, with the promise of work in Europe; in exchange for organizing the logistics, they demand that their victims repay them through various employment opportunities, all of which turn out to be prostitution.

In this case, Italian police reported that the debt these women incurred from their traffickers was 30,000 euros (US$32,000) each. Often however, the traffickers charge the women a premium for everything they are provided with while in captivity, from lodging to food and other amenities, so the debt can continuously increase.

Nigerian traffickers are well documented in utilizing supposed magical practices to indoctrinate the women into believing that unless they fully submit to their captors’ will, both they and their families will be murdered.

Such Ju-Ju rituals can involve the girls’ hair, nails or pubic hair to further sell the deceit, according to the Investigative Reporting Project Italy (IRPI).

Police became aware of this particular ring after a victim, who had been trafficked to Italy from Libya, escaped “physical and mental violence” at the hands of her handlers and managed to seek help from authorities.

The Madame coordinated with accomplices in Nigeria and Libya to recruit and indoctrinate girls before sending them to Italy. Intermediaries were also employed to manage the travel logistics necessary to smuggle the women into Europe.

Police also noted how the Madame utilized an “untraceable, informal banking system” to launder her ill-gotten gains back to Nigeria. She reportedly does not have a legitimate source of income in Italy.

The proceeds also went towards funding the operation, as well as towards real estate purchases in Nigeria, investigators said.

Such Nigerian human trafficking and prostitution networks have been encountered and dismantled by police across Europe multiple times in the past, including one in Spain and another in Italy just last year.