Police in the northern Italian city of Vicenza have arrested a 42-year-old Nigerian woman.
Prosecutors issued the order to arrest the woman in Bologna after a court sentenced her to a prison term of eight years, seven months and 28 days.
The judges found her guilty of “forcing or maintaining [young women] in a state of aggravated slavery” and of “illegal immigration,” investigative sources said on Tuesday, February 16.
Infomigrants reports that Investigators said the woman recruited young women in Nigeria and brought them to Italy via Libya and a Mediterranean crossing. The women were then forced to work as prostitutes along the ‘Via Emilia’ state road in northern Italy near Bologna. The crimes were reportedly committed between November 2014 and March 2017.
A 75-year-old Italian man was also investigated for aiding and abetting prostitution, together with the woman.
Police had launched an investigation into the trafficking operation after a Nigerian minor reported them to the police. The 42-year-old woman was sentenced to house arrest in July 2018 but had escaped. This week, following sentencing in her absence, police could track down the woman in Vicenza and took her to prison.
Human trafficking affects 40 million victims globally, according to the 2020 immigration report published by Catholic charity Caritas last October. 60% of victims are sexually exploited, the report found. One-third are minors, and seven in 10 are women or girls.
The US State Department estimates that the number of Italy victims is between 25,000 and 30,000, mainly hailing from Nigeria, Russia, Ukraine, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria and Moldavia.
Italy is often the first destination country for people trafficked from Africa —with people being sent across the Mediterranean from Libya.