Three women have been safeguarded and three individuals arrested in Nigeria as part of an international operation targeting criminal networks involved in the trafficking of human beings across Europe.
The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) led the operation in Lagos at Murtala Muhammad International Airport (MMIA) alongside officers from the UK Border Force (UKBF) and Immigration Enforcement to disrupt the transit routes of trafficking groups to the UK and other European countries.
Working in conjunction with Nigeria’s Joint Border Task Force (JBTF), officers targeted a number of specific flights from MMIA and several passengers were selected for screening. Three Nigerian women were taken into protective custody on 28 April 2016 due to displaying human trafficking indicators.
On the same day, JBTF officers arrested a Nigerian national on suspicion of human trafficking and two other individuals for their alleged role in a suspected labour exploitation case.
The NCA operation in Nigeria is part of international activity co-ordinated through Europol which has resulted in a total of 400 potential victims of trafficking being identified across Europe.
The NCA’s UK Human Trafficking Centre supplied live time intelligence support to officers in the UK and the 16 other participating European countries, many of which focused their dedicated efforts on targeting areas known for prostitution. This joint activity was supported by UKBF officers stationed at London Heathrow Airport, who carried out intensive checks and monitored both direct and indirect flights from Nigeria.
Martin French, head of the NCA’s UK Human Trafficking Centre, explained: “The NCA and its UK partners continue to work closely with international law enforcement agencies to detect and disrupt Nigerian crime groups who are actively involved in modern slavery to Europe. By strengthening our response activity overseas, we’ll actively ensure that the UK remains a hostile place in which to operate for those who wish to attempt exploitation of the vulnerable.”
The JBTF consists of Nigerian law enforcement officers from the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency, the Economic Financial Crimes Commission and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons.