NATIONAL POLICE officers in Castilla-La Mancha have arrested a 35-year-old man in connection with one of the largest cases of alleged sexual exploitation in Spain.
The arrest, which took place in Cuenca city, comes as an Immigration Office study claimed women from across the world were being trafficked into Spain and forced to work as prostitutes.
The report was released to mark the United Nations’ World Day against Trafficking in Persons today (Monday).
Joaquin Sanchez-Covisa, a Foreign Affairs prosecutor, said victims were coerced and exploited in “every conceivable way”.
“Traffickers capture victims by exploiting their needs or evident poverty. They are then sold, beaten, maimed, humiliated and threatened to overcome their resistance,” he said.
The 35-year-old suspect was arrested along with a 19-year-old Spanish woman and a 26-year-old woman from Venezuela. His detaining followed a complaint made by a friend of a woman allegedly forced into sex work by the three suspects.
Police conducted raids on a house in Cuenca in connection with the probe into the claims. Several women who were allegedly being held there were found visibly frightened and many broke down in tears when police arrived, according to officers.
Prosecutors from Spain’s Immigration Office claimed in their study to mark World Anti-People Trafficking Day that around 600 investigations into people smuggled had been opened since 2012.
Officials added more than 86 per cent of cases were in connection with sex slavery.
Labour exploitation cases accounted for less than 9 per cent of the total and begging for almost 3 per cent, the report added.
Less than one per cent were in connection with other crimes such as forced marriage and organ harvesting.
The study claimed victims from more than 60 countries had been indentified since 2012. The most common nationalities were Nigerian, Russian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Chinese, Paraguayan and Colombian.
Nigerians were the most trafficked people into Spain last year, according to government data. There were a total of 289 victims of people smuggling identified in 2017, 114 of which came from Africa and 113 of those from Nigeria including 14 children.
Immigration authorities said most of those coming from Nigeria came from Edo State. Traffickers falsely promised victims stable jobs in Europe before being given voodoo or yuyu rites and transferred to Spain often via refugee migration routes through Libya and Morocco.
The United Nations’ Global Report on Trafficking in Persons found women and girls made up 71 per cent of the total number of human trafficking victims internationally.
Spanish prosecutors said almost 48 per cent of cases in their country ended up being shelved despite ample evidence of criminal wrongdoing.