Feb 22, 2018

Suspected member of sex trafficking network which used voodoo to control victims arrested

The Evening Standard
February 21, 2018

Police have arrested a woman suspected of being a key member of a sex trafficking gang which used voodoo rituals to tempt, control and scare its victims.

The Spaniard was tracked down to a house in Miles Platting, Manchester, and arrested on a European Arrest Warrant on February 2, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.

Spanish authorities believe she is part of a network which recruited women in Benin and Nigeria, under false promises of a better life, before trafficking them to Spain. Once there, they were forced into prostitution to pay off their "debt".

Investigators believe the victims were coerced using voodoo rituals and controlled through fear that if they did not comply, they or their family would be killed.

As part of the rituals, they would be forced to eat raw chicken hearts and had their fingernails and pubic hair pulled out, the NCA said.

There were also two Nigerian men, aged 39 and 34, at the address who have been held on suspicion of drugs and immigration offences.

The raid by Greater Manchester Police and NCA officers comes as a further 11 suspected network members were arrested in Spain in an operation led by the Spanish National Police with the backing of Europol and Nigeria's National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons.

Liam Vernon, of the NCA's Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit, said: "Through close cooperation with the Spanish authorities and Greater Manchester Police, we have located and arrested a woman believed to be a key member of a network that trafficked and forced vulnerable women into prostitution against their will.

"Criminals involved in modern slavery seek out and exploit vulnerable individuals. They treat their victims as a commodity that can generate income over and over again.

"Tackling this threat is a priority for the NCA and we are committed to working with partners in the UK and overseas to pursue and disrupt those responsible."


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