A female trafficking boss was sentenced to 22 years in prison on Thursday for using the threat of witchcraft to exert control over almost 40 women brought from Nigeria to Europe for sex work, a British court prosecutor said.
Franca Asemota was found guilty of conspiracy to traffic persons for sexual exploitation, trafficking persons outside of the UK for sexual exploitation and assisting unlawful migration.
Isleworth Crown Court in West London heard that Asemota was part of a criminal network that trafficked girls, boys and women to Europe, using the threat of “juju magic” and rituals with curses to exert control over her victims.
Prosecutor David Davies said Asemota targeted girls from poor, rural backgrounds with little knowledge of the world, promising them legitimate jobs in Europe between August 2011 and May 2012.
“Only when they were far away from their homes were they told the truth – that they would have to work as prostitutes,” Davies said in a statement.
“The girls were told that if they disobeyed their captors or tried to escape, the curse would cause them injury, infertility or even death.”
Asemota was extradited by Justice Abdul Kafarati of the Federal High Court, Abuja in January.
The court gave the consent to her extradition through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).
She was accused of allegedly organising a network that trafficked young women, mostly teenagers, from remote Nigerian villages into Europe using Heathrow Airport as a transit hub.
The girls were promised education or jobs, such as hairdressing in countries including France and Spain, but were forced into prostitution.