Seven victims of human trafficking found in Dublin

'Voodoo rituals' often used to control women forced into prostitution, gardaí say

Investigators say the victims were recruited in their home countries and trafficked to Europe, to be  sent to work as prostitutes with forged identity documents. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Investigators say the victims were recruited in their home countries and trafficked to Europe, to be sent to work as prostitutes with forged identity documents. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Gardaí have arrested two Nigerian women after seven potential victims of human trafficking were discovered during a raid on a Dublin address as part of a pan-European crackdown.

The operation involved 14 EU countries and is the second such “European Action Day” aimed at targeting criminal gangs from Nigeria trafficking humans for sexual exploitation from West Africa, often using manipulative “voodoo” techniques”, gardaí said.

Yesterday checks were carried out at Irish ports and airports and searches uncovered evidence of the movement of money suspected by gardaí to be the proceeds of crime.

The seven victims identified in Dublin, mostly women who may have been forced into prostitution, are now receiving support.

Two organised criminal groups were targeted, one of which had links to other gangs operating in Spain, Austria, Switzerland and France.

One of the women arrested was charged with two counts of trafficking illegal immigrants and one count of organising prostitution in Dublin District Court. A file has been prepared for the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the case of the other woman.

Gardaí say traffickers often adopt “voodoo rituals” commonly used in West Africa as a means of exerting pressure on victims and to ensure obedience. It is also used to force them to pay trafficking debts that can amount to as much as €60,000.

“A further 31 persons have been checked in Ireland as a response to requests from fellow member states across Europe, ” said detective chief superintendant John O’Driscoll.

“As a result of the day of action, new investigations have been launched in several participating countries which are supported by Europol. ”

The operation was a follow up to the first European day of action conducted in October 2012. The latest efforts were led by Germany’s Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) and coordinated from Europol in The Hague.

“The objective was to identify people trafficked from Western Africa and increase the intelligence picture on the human traffickers involved,” gardaí said in a statement.

“The results submitted by the countries involved are being analysed by Europol to help identify key figures in international human trafficking networks in Europe and to establish crime patterns as well as possible criminal organisational structures.”

After being “recruited” in their home countries, investigators say the victims are trafficked to Europe and sent to work as prostitutes with forged identity documents.

“The continuous shifting of exploited victims within the EU is commonly noticed.”

Welcoming the success of the operation, Denise Charlton, chief executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland said: “Human trafficking is a reality with criminal networks stretching right across Europe and further afield. It requires a robust policing and policy response.”