Four suspected members of Nigerian mafia gang have been arrested by the Italian police over human trafficking, kidnapping, forced prostitution after a young sex trafficking victim spoke out against them.
One of the suspects was taken into custody in Palermo while the other three living in Taranto were also taken into pre-trial custody.
The suspected Black Axe members were arrested during operations conducted in the Sicilian regional capital Palermo and Puglian regional capital Taranto in the early hours of Tuesday, January 18.
According to the police, “The suspects were charged with slavery, human trafficking, kidnapping and pandering [recruiting prostitutes].”
The police were acting on information from the Nigerian migrant who said she had been forced into prostitution by the group.
The Nigerian woman who accused the suspects was supported by a Pentecostal preacher, also from Nigeria.
According to Italian news agency AGI, the woman turned to the preacher for help after being forced to work as a prostitute in Italy.
The woman, in her statement said she underwent a “Juju” or traditional magic ceremony in Nigeria before being trafficked to Italy.
She added that she was first kidnapped by a group of Black Axe members in Nigeria after which she escaped with the help of a fellow Nigerian but to pay him back, she was asked to travel to Italy as a “slave.” During the ceremony, she promised to pay €15,000 for her journey.
Once the woman arrived in Palermo, under “the threat of death and violence” reports AGI, the woman was allegedly forced to work as a prostitute. The money she earned was then taken to “repay” the debt.
Finally, the woman turned to the pastor, who says he has since been receiving death threats.
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