Catalan regional police on Monday morning launched a large-scale raid against human trafficking and sexual exploitation in Barcelona.
Around 30 individuals were expected to be arrested for forcing Nigerian women into prostitution in the downtown area of the Catalan capital, said sources at the Mossos d’Esquadra law enforcement agency, which launched the raids at around 8am.
Officers are also searching 20 properties in Barcelona, Terrassa, Sabadell and several other Catalan towns and cities.
The Supreme Eiye Confraternity was created in the 1990s in university circles and gradually morphed into a criminal association
The suspects, several of whom are themselves Nigerian, are part of a criminal organization called the Supreme Eiye Confraternity.
Investigators believe the group may have exploited dozens of women, many of whom were charged hefty amounts of money to be brought to Spain from Africa with the promise of a job and a better life.
Instead, the women found themselves forced into prostitution to repay their debts to the human trafficking ring.
This is not the first time that the Catalan police have acted against the Supreme Eiye Confraternity. In November 2011, several members were arrested on similar charges. The case reached Spain’s High Court last week, where 10 people are standing trial for forcing Nigerian women into prostitution.
But several of the protected witnesses in the case are nowhere to be found. Sources familiar with the situation said this was a result of the threats they routinely receive, and to the fact that the state protection is eventually lifted, allowing the criminal gang to discover the identity of the witnesses.
The Supreme Eiye Confraternity was created in the 1990s in university circles and gradually morphed into a criminal association, according to police sources.
English version by Susana Urra.