On Monday Italian customs police raked a Nigerian organized criminal gang that coharse many young women into prostitution and soliciting for monetry help on the streets of Italy and then smuggled out millions of euros in ill-gained revenues to Nigeria, with cash hidden in suitcase handles or pasta packages.
The police have raids on cities located at northern and southern Italy as well as on the Sardinia island yielded 40 arrests. The arrested suspects are being held for investigation of alleged money-laundering, facilitating illegal immigration, human trafficking, putting persons into slavery and exploiting prostitution.
Many other criminals are also under investigation.
What helped to spark the investigation was the report of a Nigerian woman, who was migrated illegally into Italy, that her fellow countrywomen were taking on loan as high as 50,000 euros ($56,000) to arrive, only to be coharse into prostitution for the gang. Remember that prostitution is legal in Italy, But the exploitation of prostitutes is illegal.
In a statement issued by the police confirm that while the Nigerian crime gang was based in Italy, its operations extended to Germany, Libya and Nigeria.
“41 young ladies (were) assigned to prostitution, while nine were forced to beg,″ the statement said.
To stop the women from reporting to authorities for help, they “were maltreated, put under control and put into a state of psychological trouma” by the use of macabre voodoo rites to guarantee they would pay off their travel debts, police said.
The crime syndicate used a combination of methods to pump their ill-gained revenues back into Nigeria, mostly in real estate there, Italian authorities said.
The syndicates used 11 teams of cash couriers, who sometimes hid bunks of money inside the retractable handles of suitcase or inside pasta packages to elude searches at Italy’s airports, the police confirmed.
The Italian police custom also said that a measure has been put in place by the judiciary to help the victim break free from the ties of physical-psychological coercion which kept them bound” to their exploiters.