Italian authorities have arrested four Nigerian citizens accused of human trafficking and forcing underage migrant girls into prostitution, including through the use of esoteric rituals.
The suspects of which three are women, were arrested in the province of Caserta as part of an investigation by the Catania anti-mafia police into the trafficking of Nigerians who were brought to Italy and forced into prostitution.
Those arrested were a 42-year-old woman and her 36-year-old brother, his 31-year-old wife and a 26-year-old woman.
They are accused of working with other unidentified suspects in Nigeria and Libya in human trafficking, an aggravated crime due to its cross-border nature; as well as causing harm to minors and exposing the injured parties to serious danger to their lives and their physical integrity.
The investigation began following statements made by a Nigerian minor named “Onda” (name changed to protect privacy, ed.), who disembarked in Catania in July 2016 from the Italian Coast Guard ship “Luigi Dattilo” together with 359 other migrants.
From her story, investigators learned that she had been recruited in Nigeria with the false promise of work in Italy, after having undergone an esoteric “juju” ritual, with which she agreed to repay the sum of about 20,000 euros. Once she arrived in Sicily, the young woman was taken from the reception centre where she was being hosted and was forced into prostitution.
Police were able to reconstruct the stories of other young Nigerian girls who, like “Onda”, were forced to prostitute themselves for a monthly payment of about 100 euros. They worked at outposts called “ugbo”, which means “the land”. These indicated the few meters of road assigned to each girl, and the police operation took this word for the name of the operation.