Crimes of trafficking in human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation, coerced prostitution and sexual assault
Assessed case number:
STS 63/2020 (Resolution Number: 63/2020)
Brief description of the case
The accused individuals were members of a network which smuggled illegally females from Nigeria, mainly to Spain and to other Schengen States. The members of said network asked the victims to pay a certain price and, in exchange, they arranged the displacements and transfer of the victims from their country of origin and then their reception and further necessary procedures in Spain, supposedly to study in Europe. After those steps, the perpetrators completely controlled their victims. It is worth to mention that one of the perpetrators, as well as one of the victims were minors when the criminal group started to act and to arrange the issuance of the fake documentation and the trip of the victims.
The criminal organization finally exploited sexually the victims forcing them to prostitution, controlled the income of those activities and benefited from them. They controlled their victims first convincing them that they had a considerable debt to them, as they had arranged their transfer to Spain and the required documentation. In order to tighten the control over them, they used severe threats against the families of the victims, threatening to kill them, with the use of voodoo techniques as a means to make the threats more plausible for the victims. One of the perpetrators also repeatedly raped one of the victims.
Phone conversation records showed that the accused individuals “tricked” the victims convincing them that they would come to Europe in order to study. Once the victims arrived to Europe, they were told by the perpetrators that they had a 50,000 EUR debt to them and then were forced to prostitution. Apart from the aforementioned method of voodoo techniques, the perpetrators also used sexual violence, aggression and intimidation against the victims in order to control them and prevent them from talking to the law enforcement authorities.
The authorities found several fake passports issued by the perpetrators, which were linked to several bank accounts. The authorities also detected various bank transfers through the aforementioned bank accounts, namely digital money transfers to other accounts outside Spain. During the same investigation, in one of the apartments linked to the perpetrators, the authorities found folders with suspicious home addresses written on them, in places not related to the perpetrators or the victims, such as Austria. They also found documents related to a supposed lottery prize of almost 1,5 million GBP, whose beneficiary was supposed to pay a considerable amount of money as taxes in order to reclaim the prize. Various bank transfers were detected, to various bank accounts linked to false bank and state official documents. The perpetrators had also carried out money transfers through Wester Union to various, unidentified receivers, of over 50,000 EUR each.
The records of some telephone conversations through a prepaid mobile phone (Lyca Mobile) revealed that the perpetrators were discussing topics such as the issuing of fake passports, and the bank transfers to different accounts. Further conversations were explaining in detail the way in which the perpetrators used the voodoo method to threaten and control the victims and their families. Likewise, the modus operandi of the criminal network regarding the sexual exploitation and the forced prostitution of the victims was also revealed through the conversations. Among others, the authorities detected conversations with clients, with intermediaries, and clarified the established prices and the distribution of the earnings from the prostitution. The phone conversations also showed the journey of the victims since they were recruited in Nigeria, to Morocco as a transit country and then to Malaga as the entry place to Spain, as well as the registry of various residencies and rented properties by the accused criminal network.