Spanish police dismantle voodoo-linked sex trafficking ring

Spanish police dismantle voodoo-linked sex trafficking ring
PHOTO: The Straits Times

MADRID - Spanish police said Monday they had dismantled a trafficking ring they said used voodoo rituals - including animal sacrifice - to force Nigerian women into prostitution in Spain.

Six traffickers were arrested and four of the victims freed, police said in a statement.

The women, who came to Europe on dangerous, makeshift boats, were recruited in Nigeria, where they were enticed with false promises of employment.

But once they arrived in places like the Spanish holiday island of Mallorca, they were forced into prostitution.

Authorities said the traffickers attempted to keep the women submissive by performing "tribal rituals" in Nigeria that sometimes involved "animal sacrifice".

They used the women's nail clippings and locks of hair to convince them that they had been placed under a spell "so they would do everything asked of them, under the threat of death to them or their family", police said.

The women had travelled across northern Africa to get to Spain illegally, making the arduous journey on foot and then by boat. But after arriving, they were swept into the sex trafficking world, and threatened with voodoo from Nigeria.

"Women take on a debt up to 50,000 euros (S$75,000), and swear obedience to a 'madam' and traffickers," police said.

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