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Thursday, 28 January 2016
Catalog police ends Eiye confraternity, sex-trafficking in Spain.
Catalan Police have busted a sex-trafficking group in Spain known as the Supreme Eiye Confraternity (SEC), or the Air Lords following a raid on their residential building.
BBC’s Sam Piranty was given access by the Catalan police, Mossos D’Esquadra, to an investigation into a Nigerian sex-trafficking gang. He spoke to traffickers and women rescued from sexual slavery before filming an early morning raid in November, which led to 23 arrests. He also discovered that the gang is now using London as a gateway into Europe.
It’s 08:00 in the Catalan Police Headquarters on the outskirts of Barcelona and Xavi Cortes, head of the anti-trafficking unit, waits patiently for his 22 teams to confirm they are in position. Finally, he gives the order.
Two-hundred-and-fifty officers quietly climb out of their police vans. Single file, each team approaches a residential building watched by a few surprised neighbours.
On reaching the door, one of the masked police officers uses his fingers to count down. Three, two, one. The door is knocked down, the silence shattered, the officers rush inside.
The raid results in the arrest of the leaders of a Nigerian-based group running an international sex-trafficking ring in Barcelona.
It’s known as the Supreme Eiye Confraternity (SEC), or the Air Lords, and 23 people are now behind bars, with European Arrest Warrants issued for those who have left the country.
This operation was 18 months in the planning and involved monitoring more than a million phone calls, tapping dozens of mobile phones and months of surveillance.
Some seized Nigerian passports held as evidence
Cortes and his team first came across the group in 2011 during a forgery investigation, but quickly discovered it was a huge network trafficking women and drugs.
He asks me to look at his screen. On it is a map detailing all the locations they have identified where members of the SEC operate. Cities are marked in Europe, North, West and East Africa, North and South America, the Middle East and Asia.
Eiye in Yoruba, the main language of south-western Nigeria means ”bird”. The group’s insignia is an eagle and each city containing members is called a ”nest”, with the ”mother nest” in Ibadan, about 100km (60 miles) north-east of Lagos.
The group was started at the University of Ibadan in the 1970s, and the original intention was to make a positive contribution to society. Over time, however, many members went astray, committing violence in Nigeria and delving into crime abroad.
The group now traffics human beings and narcotics (cocaine and marijuana) and forges passports. It has also facilitated the transport of stolen crude oil into Europe.
“They are able to earn money in many ways, but we are focused on human-trafficking and the victims.”Says Cortes.
His second-in-command, Alex Escola, then tells me something remarkable.
”You know, one of the tappings showed us that last year, on 7 July, around 400 members of SEC met in Geneva. They had a big meeting, all together.”
Xavi Cortes, Catalan police says Eiye Confraternity uses forged documents and passports from Nigeria to fly into places like Gatwick – these need co-operation of people working in the government
It was an audacious display of arrogance. In a city where many of the world’s global institutions are headquartered, including numerous UN agencies, a global criminal institution held its own parallel international gathering and no-one tried to stop it.
Benin City, Nigeria, is a human-trafficking hub, and a good place to observe how the criminal operation works.
After long negotiations, our team manages to speak to a recruiter, whose job it is to find girls. The recruiter explains that they either approach girls directly or through their families offering fake jobs abroad in a supermarket, or as a cleaner.
However, not everyone is tricked. Many women approach the recruiters themselves, often in full knowledge that they will be working as a prostitute in Europe. Some parents, also aware of this, approach recruiters on behalf of their children.