Five people have been arrested in the Sicilian city of Messina for smuggling Nigerian women into Europe and forcing them into prostitution, Italian police said last week. The five apprehended are allegedly members of a criminal cell based in Nigeria but with contacts in Libya and Italy who organized the trips. The crimes the suspects have been charged with are criminal association for the clandestine entrance and stay or Nigerian minors in Italy, exploitation of child prostitution, induction into slavery and human trafficking.
Black magic used to subjugate the children
The investigation, conducted by the investigative department of the carabinieri in Messina, Sicily, reconstructed the system implemented by the group between 2015 and 2017. The group recruited young Nigerian girls by convincing them that respectable jobs awaited them in Europe. They were then taken to Italy and forced to work as prostitutes to "repay" the travel costs sustained by the criminal organization. The girls were subjugated with the help of tribal rituals using "black magic" prior to leaving Nigeria.
Nigerians involved in drug trafficking, too
At least 15 Nigerian female unaccompanied migrants were allegedly brought by the organization to several European countries after disembarking them in Messina via Libya. All were forced into prostitution with the help of an Italian man - the reference point of a local volunteer association working in the civil protection and migrant assistance sector - who provided information to help the group track down the girls in Italy and took part in the induction into prostitution of those hosted in Messina reception centers. During the investigation, it emerged that some of the Nigerians were also involved in cross-border trafficking of heroin.