Police investigating the disappearance of 140 girls from Dutch asylum seekers’ centres have arrested some 20 people in connection with a major international child trafficking ring.
Thirteen people have been arrested in the Netherlands and at least six others, all with Nigerian nationality, were taken into custody in the US, Spain, Belgium and the UK. French and German police were also involved in the investigation, the public prosecution department said.
Police said the traffickers used voodoo to gain a hold over the girls before smuggling them abroad to pose as asylum seekers.
Several of the children who disappeared from Dutch asylum seekers’ centres have been found working as street prostitutes in France, Italy and Spain, the public prosecution department said.
Police said the girls were supplied with false travel documents and flight tickets and given instructions to seek asylum when they arrived at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport. The children were then placed in asylum seekers centres.
‘Voodoo was used to keep them in line. In Nigeria they were forced to take a vow before a voodoo priest to repay a so-called debt. The debt had to be settled with the money they earned from prostitution,’ the public prosecution department said.
Those arrested are suspected of people-trafficking, involvement in a criminal organisation, forging documents and money-laundering. At least 10 illegal immigrants were also found during the raids on homes in Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Arnhem, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Leeuwarden.
The suspects arrested in the Netherlands will appear before the court in Zwolle this week. The others face extradition proceedings.
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