Spanish police have rescued 21 Nigerian women who were trafficked to work as sex workers by a notorious prostitution ring.
The Daily Mail reports that the victims were lured by the prostitution ring with fake promises of well-paying jobs and then smuggled in to Spain mainland by the traffickers.
The girls and women — some as young as 16 — who were taken to the island of Ibiza to work in the tourist sex trade and work 14 hours per day were often beaten with brooms and sticks if they did not deliver at least €1,000 to their pimps.
Spanish police have revealed that the rescue of the women, a major operation which was made possible through the collaboration of the Office of Criminal Investigation in Germany and Europol, has led to the arrest of 24 suspects.
“The network captured very young victims among the lower classes of the major Nigerian cities, deceiving them with false job offers in Spain.
“Once in our country, they were forced in to prostitution in marathon days, being beaten if they did not earn the money demanded by the gang,” said a police spokesman.
Police say they believe Ibiza was a natural choice for the gang to operate from due to the influx of tourists to the island during the summer period.
Investigators say they found 17 women crammed in to a small apartment, measuring about 30 metres square, with three to four women having to share a single bed.
Police say the women were smuggled in to Europe on boats and planes after they were lured with foreign employment offers that were too good to refuse. Once in Europe, the women were made to understand that they would need to pay back substantial sums of money — sometimes as much as 50,000 pounds — for moving them around and also subjected to voodoo rituals to guarantee their silence and cooperation.
Police say that during the rescue operation, they blocked 20 bank accounts and raided seven properties in Spain and Germany.
The 24 suspects arrested included two women who were said to be the ring leaders of the gang, and police described them as having years of experience in recruiting vulnerable girls.
Another gang member was arrested in Germany and five other members were found to be members of a cult known as the Supreme Eiye Confraternity.
In August, the United Nation’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM) released a statement on the crises levels of trafficked women and girls from Nigeria to Europe.
The IOM put the number of Nigerian women who arrived by boat to Italy in the first six months of 2016 at about 3,600, nearly double the number who were registered in the same time period last year.
In 2014, about 1,500 Nigerian women arrived by sea. In 2015, that figure increased to 5,633. According to the IOM, more than 80 percent of these women will be trafficked in to prostitution in Italy and across Europe.
BY MARK BABATUNDE