Italian authorities have arrested four people on suspicion of human trafficking and aiding prostitution. The arrests also lead to the dismantling of the group that was allegedly operating in Nigeria, Libya and Italy.
Police in the southern Italian city of Palermo have arrested four people, including a Nigerian woman and an Italian citizen. It is suspected that they were running an international operation that involved trafficking young girls from Nigeria and forcing them into prostitution in Italy.
The operation leading to the arrests was carried out by officials from the Guardia di Finanza (GdF), which is the Italian law enforcement agency responsible for dealing with financial crimes and smuggling. Investigations and raids between Palermo, Naples, Dervio and Bergamo lead to the arrest of the gang’s suspected head: The 35-year-old Nigerian woman, identified only by her initials as T.E., was previously a political refugee in Bergamo.
Forced into prostitution
Also arrested were 26-year-old G.P. and 29-year-old G.S. They were living in Campania and Lombardy. Their nationalities are not yet known. The fourth person arrested was 78-year-old G.M., who is an Italian national. He allegedly provided logistical assistance near the regional capital of Sicily. The elderly man also reportedly acted as a 'lookout' - warning the other members of the group of any danger in the vicinity.
The investigation by the GdF officials and the arrests lead to dismantling of the gang, which was operating between Nigeria, Libya and Italy. Its members allegedly promised young Nigerian girls a new life and jobs in Italy. These girls were then lured into taking 30,000 euro debt, to finance their journey. They were then taken to Libya, where they were forced to stay in detention centers before being put on boats to go to Italy. After reaching the reception centers in Sicily, they were then forced into prostitution to pay off their 'debt'. They were told this was the only possibility for them to get their freedom back and to avoid consequences for themselves and their families in Nigeria.