Spanish police break up 'voodoo' prostitution ring
Spain's police said Thursday they had broken up an international ring that forced women from Africa into street prostitution with constant beatings and voodoo rituals.
Police arrested 17 suspects in cities across Spain, taking the gang apart after one of the prostitutes gave evidence as a protected witness of her ordeal at the hands of the gang.
"The organisation was perfectly structured with connections in various African countries such as Nigeria, Benin, Niger, Algeria and Morocco, through which the women passed until their arrival in Spain," police said in a statement.
"The women were forced with voodoo practices and constant beatings to work as street prostitutes to repay a 'debt' to the organisation that rose as high as 50,000 euros ($69,000)," they said.
The gang is accused of forging identity papers such as Nigerian passports for their victims.
They also stole credit card numbers by hacking on the Internet, used them to buy goods especially from on-line stores in the United States, and then re-sold the objects at great profit, police said.
Spanish police have swooped several times in past years on similar prostitution rings that used the threat of voodoo curses to frighten their victims into obedience.
© 2011 AFP