Highly organised Nigerian gangs are earning “extremely high profits” from trafficking children into 12 European countries, including Ireland, for prostitution, according to the EU police agency.
Victims are often forced to pay off ‘smuggling debts’ of tens of thousands of euro.
Europol said victims generate a smuggling debt of between €30,000-€60,000 each — and that paying off the debts can take years.
The agency said Nigerian criminal groups are organised into cells, typically run by females, known as “madams”, with men working in supportive roles.
The Europol report on the trafficking and exploitation of underage victims said southern EU countries, such as Italy and Spain, are the main entry points for trafficked Nigerians.
It said victims are then forced into prostitution in both the two entry countries and 10 other member states, including Ireland.
It said Nigerian organised crime gangs pose a “great challenge” to EU law enforc