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Nigerian pastor, 23 others busted in sex trafficking ring in France

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A Nigerian pastor, Stanley Omoregie, and 23 other Nigerians suspected to be members of a sex trafficking ring, who force female Nigerian migrants into prostitution, will go on trial on Wednesday in Lyon, France.

According to reports, the arrest of the gang was triggered by an investigation by Police authorities in Lyon, following a tip about the Nigerian pastor accused of exploiting several sex workers who lived in apartments he owned.

The arrest was also triggered by another investigation where an estimate showed that half the city’s sex workers are Nigerians.

However, Omoregie denied the charge, which include aggravated pimping and slavery, even as he is heard saying he wanted “those with beautiful bodies, who can be controlled, not those that cause problems,” in a transcript of a conversation submitted to the court.

The prosecution presented him as the kingpin of a family-based syndicate made up of 10 women and 14 men, including one of Europe’s most wanted women, Jessica Edosomwan, accused of recruiting destitute women in Nigeria for the sex trade in Lyon, Nimes and Montpellier.

Edosomwan, who is believed to be on the run in the Benelux countries, Italy or Germany, will be tried in absentia.

Among the accused is a 28-year-old former prostitute, who was herself released from sex slavery after paying off her debts, and who in turn brought over another young woman from Nigeria.

Months of police wiretaps and surveillance led to the arrest of the suspects between September 2017 and January 2018, as they risk 10 years in jail if convicted.

According to the report, the accused in Lyon cover the entire gamut of sex trafficking activities, from iron-fisted “madams” and violent pimps as well as drivers of the vans in which the women perform sexual acts, and those tasked with laundering the proceeds of the trafficking.

Prosecutors estimate that 17 alleged victims, aged 17 to 38, made up to 150,000 euros ($166,000) a month for the syndicate, selling sex for as little as 10 euros.

Most of the women are said to come from Benin City, Edo State capital, a human trafficking hotbed with a long history of dispatching women and men to Europe to earn money to send back home.

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