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Juju Ritual Trafficked slaves are worth €150,000 a year to gangs in countries like Ireland

"Instead of shackles, this is another kind of control. It is a deeper and more powerful kind of control"

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Alicia Edosa and Edith Enoghaghase were found guilty of human trafficking, prostitution and money laundering.  (Pic: Thomas Gibbons)

Alicia Edosa and Edith Enoghaghase were found guilty of human trafficking, prostitution and money laundering. (Pic: Thomas Gibbons)

Siddharth Kara spent a month in Nigeria tracking the trafficking movement.

Siddharth Kara spent a month in Nigeria tracking the trafficking movement.

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Alicia Edosa and Edith Enoghaghase were found guilty of human trafficking, prostitution and money laundering. (Pic: Thomas Gibbons)

A WORLD-renowned expert says a trafficked woman is worth €150,000 or more every year to criminal gangs in countries like Ireland - and modern slavery is part of the global economy.

Siddharth Kara, a former banker turned activist and academic, says slave gangs want to maximise profits whether it's by running brothels, mining cobalt or growing cannabis.

His comments came as three people involved in Ireland's first successful human-trafficking prosecution are due to be sentenced this week.

"This is important for people in Ireland to understand - you may not see it, you may not be aware of it, but it is inevitably, inexorably touching your life, by virtue of the clothes you buy, the food you eat, the jewellery you wear, the make-up you wear, the soap and shampoo you use and crucially, just about every tech device and if you happen to own an electric car, that too."

Alicia Edosa (44) and Edith Enoghaghase (31) were found guilty of trafficking women into Ireland between September 2016 and June 2018. They are due to be sentenced this week.

After a six-week trial Enoghaghase's husband, Omonuwa Desmond Osaighbovo (30) was found not guilty of a single charge of prostitution but guilty of money laundering offences.

During the trial earlier this year one of the gang's victims told how she was subjected to a juju ritual in Nigeria before being smuggled into Europe after a dangerous journey through north Africa.

She ended up in brothels all over Ireland before the vice operation was broken up in Mullingar. She had made €44,000 for the gang.

In his most recent book, Modern Slavery, Siddharth described the slave trade as facing beasts which are "most fiercely unleashed in the dens of sex slavery, and Nigeria is the most unleashed of them all".

"The Nigerian story is a very specific, distinctive form of human trafficking. I spent a month in Nigeria documenting how it all works," he told the Sunday World.

"It's not uncommon - this is a very, very common story. It's ten years ago since I was in Nigeria and it is still today impoverished women and girls living in violent, insecure areas getting recruited, undergoing juju rituals.

"Instead of shackles, this is another kind of control. It is a deeper and more powerful kind of control.

"They are brought to Europe with massive debts they have to repay in commercial sex.

"You can imagine - young, away from home, don't know the local language, probably vulnerable, oppressed and you've got this hold over you.

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"The kind of exploitation that can take place is extraordinarily intense. All the profits accrue up the chain."

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Siddharth Kara spent a month in Nigeria tracking the trafficking movement.

Siddharth Kara spent a month in Nigeria tracking the trafficking movement.

Siddharth Kara spent a month in Nigeria tracking the trafficking movement.

In the Mullingar trial, one of four women who gave evidence told how she was promised a job earning €3,500 as a shop assistant.

She said she had been raped in Tripoli, Libya, during her journey and used a false Irish passport to get through immigration at Dublin Airport.

The trial heard that Edosa had kept €44,000 of the woman's earnings while also threatening to kill her son and entire family back in Nigeria if she did not follow instructions.

"I was like a sex machine and money-making machine for her," she said.

She said if she collected €1,000, she was only allowed to keep €10 for herself which sometimes left her starving for days.

The case highlighted the existence of human trafficking in Ireland despite a lack of prosecutions since specific legislation was brought enacted in 2008.

"Most people aren't aware there are still slaves in the world. Most people think 'didn't we abolish slavery some 150 years ago, end the slave trade and so on and this is in the past'," said Siddharth.

"Yes, on paper slavery was abolished - you could not, from the mid 1800s onwards, buy or sell a person like property.

"The reality is that the practice of exploiting people like property for economic benefit never ended. It may not have legal backing but that doesn't mean it just went away."

"It isn't cruelty for cruelty's sake - slavery has never been and never will be about for cruelty's sake. It is an economic crime, about eliminating the cost of labour in order to maximise profit."

Ireland has come in for criticism in recent years for failing to get to grips with modern slavery gangs operating in the country.

The most recent Trafficking in Persons Report, by the US State Department, listed Ireland as a Tier 2 country when it comes to slavery.

But Justice Minister Heather Humphreys believes a lot of recent progress has not been taken into account by the authors of the influential report.

Describing as "very disappointing" the assessment of Ireland as a Tier 2 country, she hoped recent moves would see the ranking upgraded.

Minister Humphreys said it was "concerning" the TiPs report relied on information that trafficking victims are being exploited in the Irish fishing industry.

"This assessment was fully investigated by An Garda Síochána and no evidence was found to support the allegations of widespread human trafficking in the fishing industry," she stated.

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