Spanish police say they've busted a gang of 25 Nigerians who were engaged in human trafficking, Internet fraud, and money laundering. Five women victims of sex slavery were released during the crackdown on the underground operation in Spain, the police say. The gang was using Spain as a springboard to send Nigerian women to be exploited in other countries, and it laundered profits by buying luxury products that were shipped to Lagos, Nigeria, in vans with darkened windows and welded doors, police said.
The crackdown seized 94 vans near Madrid and 26 loaded ones at Valencia port containing goods—such as expensive television sets and cases of premium liquor—with an estimated value of $6.7 million, authorities say. The gang, originally formed around 1990 at Nigerian universities, was behind so-called "Nigerian letters" that tried to fraudulently extract money from recipients, police say. The gang "captured" women in Nigeria, flew them with false identity papers to Mexico and Brazil, then sent them to Paris, from where they were driven to Spain, police said. Eight of the 25 suspects were illegal immigrants, and the arrests occurred in several Spanish cities. (Read more Spain stories.)