POLICE have smashed a Nigerian ring that forced women into street prostitution in Malaga and Barcelona by burning them with irons and using voodoo rituals.
Six Nigerian nationals have been arrested, including the suspected woman ringleader.
It is alleged that the ring targeted women in the run-down Nigerian port of Benin.
Most of the victims were struggling to raise children because their husbands and fathers had died, so were vulnerable to the gang’s tactics.
The ring then transported the women over land to Morocco from where they were smuggled into Spain on small wooden boats.
They were then forced to work as street prostitutes in Barcelona and Malaga.
“The control exercised over women was total, involving verbal threats as well as physical violence and various voodoo ceremonies to terrorise them,” police said in a statement.
“The ring caused them serious injury through bites or by using an iron to cause second-degree burns.”
The arrests are part of an investigation launched last year after one of the prostitutes filed a complaint with the authorities.
Spanish police have broken up similar prostitution rings in recent years that used the threat of voodoo curses and torture.
Often the victims are taken to shrines before they leave Nigeria where they swear to pay their debts to the group and not to report them to the police.
Many are instructed to leave fingernails, hair, underwear and other personal items at the shrines, which they are told will give voodoo priests the power to harm them and their families if they break their promise.