Still from a video showing a Nigerian woman who arrived in Italy on a migrant boat and was later forced into slavery and prostitution | Photo: ANSA/ CARABINIERI
Still from a video showing a Nigerian woman who arrived in Italy on a migrant boat and was later forced into slavery and prostitution | Photo: ANSA/ CARABINIERI

Italian authorities have issued arrest warrants against 11 Nigerians. The suspects are accused of recruiting young women and minors in Nigeria and then coercing them into prostitution in Rome.

The group trafficked young women and girls from Nigeria to Italy and then forced them into prostitution, investigators said. Eleven arrest warrants have been issued. The police has thusfar found eight of the suspects. Two suspects are reportedly outside of Italy, another is being sought by the police.

This is how the gang operated, according to police: Young women and girls from remote Nigerian villages were lured with the false promise of easy employment in Europe. The girls were taken to Libya. Then they were loaded onto boats to reach the Italian coast. Once they reached Italy, they were taken away from migrant reception centers. They were brought to female "bosses" that coerced them into prostitution in the Italian capital. 

Forced to pay back 35,000 euros

The victims were reportedly required to pay back between 30,000 and 35,000 euros for the crossing of the sea once they arrived in Italy.

According to investigators, the organization seemed to have had well-defined roles for all involved: Some focused on the human trafficking, others on recruiting the girls from remote Nigerian villages, where gangs paid to have voodoo rites practiced on them, and others on the transportation on trucks to places near the Libyan coast, where the victims were often raped and forced to engage in prostitution to survive while waiting for the boats. 

'Every woman on migrant boat is potential victims' 

Carlo Sibilia, the undersecretary for the interior minister, said he was pleased with the operation. He argued that cases like this were "the first reason why we must stop every single illegal arrival in the country." He added: "Every woman who arrives on a migrant boat is potentially a victim of human trafficking." 
 

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