Dutch police end child trafficking ring
25 October 2007
THE HAGUE (AFP) – Dutch authorities have smashed an international Nigerian child trafficking ring, making 20 arrests in seven countries, the national prosecutor's office said Wednesday.
International gangs smuggled Nigerian children, mostly girls, to the Netherlands from where they were sent to other countries to work as prostitutes, the prosecutor's office said.
Dutch police arrested 13 people in several cities. At the request of Dutch authorities five additional suspects were arrested in New York, Madrid, Antwerp in Belgium and Britain. Last week a sixth suspect was arrested in Dublin.
During searches in the Netherlands police also found 10 illegal migrants who were handed over to immigration services.
The traffickers gave their victims fake travel documents, airplane tickets and instructions to demand asylum when they landed at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.
Dutch authorities worked closely with police in Spain, Belgium, France, Ireland, Britain and the United States. The national prosecutor's office has asked for the extradition of suspects arrested in the United States, Spain, Ireland, Belgium and Britain.
The gang is accused of human trafficking, people smuggling, participating in a criminal organisation, forging travel documents, counterfeiting and money laundering.
The girls were tricked to Europe and forced into prostitution. Several of the victims were found in France, Italy and Spain working as streetwalkers.
The gang controlled victims through voodoo threats, the prosecutor's office said. In Nigeria the children were forced to promise before a voodoo priest to repay their debts.
The Dutch investigation into the disappearance of Nigerian minors from Dutch asylum seeker centres started one year ago. According to authorities, some 140 Nigerian minors have left special centres for minors without leaving an address since January last year.
Under Dutch legislation, failed unaccompanied minors seeking asylum cannot be deported. They are housed in special centres where they are educated until they turn 18 and then sent back to their country of origin.