A Nigerian woman suspected to have controlled women who were trafficked from Nigeria to Spain as sex slaves has been arrested in Greater Manchester.
She is suspected of playing a key role in an organised criminal network known as the ‘Eiye Confraternity’ – which spanned Nigeria, Libya, Italy and Spain.
Manchester Evening News reports that investigators swooped to free 39 women and girls who were living in Spain in unsafe, cave-like conditions.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) said the victims, all Nigerian nationals, are thought to have undergone voodoo-style rituals in Nigeria to force them to comply with their captors’ orders.
They were then moved by boat to Libya and Italy, before arriving in Spain.
Many were aged under 18, the NCA said, and were prevented from leaving so they could be ‘sexually exploited for the sole purpose of financial gain’. All monies ended up in Nigeria.
Video footage of the woman’s arrest in Middleton has been released by the NCA. Her age or the exact location of her arrest have not been revealed.
A spokesman said: “She remains in custody awaiting extradition to Spain where she faces prosecution.”
“Investigators found the gang had numerous women under their control working as prostitutes to pay off their debts with Eiye Confraternity – upwards of 30,000 euros each – for the cost of moving the victims into Europe.
“NCA officers worked with partners to develop intelligence on the network, including carrying out surveillance on those suspected to be involved, and working with Nigerian colleagues to build up information about the scale of the abuse and exploitation.
Deputy director Tom Dowdall, modern slavery and human trafficking threat lead for the NCA, said: “This was a complex and extensive operation with deep-rooted organisation both in Nigeria and Spain.
“Eiye Confraternity was a highly organised crime gang, exploiting young woman for lengthy periods of time, keeping them in horrendous conditions where they knew there would be no escape.”