Italian police have arrested four suspected members of Nigerian mafia after a young sex trafficking victim spoke out against them.
The men, who allegedly belong to Black Axe, were arrested during operations conducted in the Sicilian regional capital Palermo and Puglian regional capital Taranto in the early hours of Tuesday, January 18.
“The suspects were charged with slavery, human trafficking, kidnapping and pandering [recruiting prostitutes],” the police said.
The police were acting on information from the Nigerian migrant who said she had been forced into prostitution by the group.
Palermo’s flying squad led the investigation via their department for foreign organized crime and prostitution.
One of the suspects was taken into custody in Palermo. The other three were found to be living in Taranto, where they were also taken into pre-trial custody.
The Nigerian woman who accused the suspects was supported by a Pentecostal preacher, also from Nigeria.
According to the Italian news agency AGI, the woman turned to the preacher for help after being forced to work as a prostitute in Italy.
According to the woman’s statement, she underwent a “Juju” or traditional magic ceremony in Nigeria before being trafficked to Italy.
The woman said she was first kidnapped by a group of Black Axe members in Nigeria. 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 received death threats.