Nigerian traffickers arrested

Date: 
2008-01-15

The Associated Press

Rome - Italian and Dutch authorities detained dozens of Nigerians on Tuesday accused of smuggling their compatriots into Europe to work as prostitutes and drug dealers, police said.

"Operation Viola" also uncovered "serious adoption irregularities" in which Nigerian women living in Italy were able to take infants from Nigerian orphanages and then sell them abroad, police said in a statement.

Overall, authorities executed 66 arrest warrants early on Tuesday, all but 15 of them carried out in Italy.

Dutch authorities carried out most of the 15 other arrests. Smugglers in the Netherlands played an important role in getting Nigerian minors into the country to then be sent elsewhere to work as prostitutes or in the drug trafficking industry, the statement said.

The suspects in Italy are accused of mafia association, criminal association aimed at human trafficking, slavery, kidnapping and international drug trafficking, police said.

The first phase of the operation ended in October with 23 arrests in the Netherlands, Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, United States and Nigeria, the statement said.

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