Spanish police said Sunday [Jun 2] they had broken up a ring that smuggled in women from Nigeria and forced them into street prostitution by burning them with irons and using voodoo rituals.
arrested six Nigerian nationals, including the suspected woman
ringleader, as part of an investigation launched last year after one of
the prostitutes filed a complaint with the authorities.
control exercised over women was total, involving verbal threats as well
as physical violence and various voodoo ceremonies to terrorise them,”
police said in a statement. “The ring caused them serious injury through
bites or by using an iron to cause second-degree burns.”
ring recruited women in Benin City, a run-down Nigerian port, whose
husbands and fathers had died and who were struggling to raise their
They transported the women overland to Morocco and then
smuggled them on small wooden boats into Spain where they are forced to
work as street prostitutes in Barcelona and Malaga.
police have swooped several times in past years on similar prostitution
rings that used the threat of voodoo curses to frighten their victims
Before leaving Nigeria, the rings often take
their victims to shrines where they swear to pay their debts to the
group and not to denounce them to the police.
The women leave
fingernails, hair, underwear and other personal items at the shrines
which they are told will give voodoo priests the power to harm them
wherever they are in the world.