Trento, Sep 12 (IANS/AKI) Police in the northern Italian city of Trento on Tuesday arrested four Nigerians suspected of trafficking young women into forced prostitution.

The four Nigerians face charges of human trafficking, enslavement and abetting illegal immigration, police said.

The four, all of whom are asylum-seekers were part of a gang that operated in the northern cities of Bolzano, Merano and Bologna, and in Viterbo in central Italy, local daily Trento Today reported.

The Nigerian women allegedly trafficked by the gang with the false promise of a respectable job were aged between 20 and 30, investigators said.

The women were first held in refugee camps in the Libyan cities of Sebhrat and Tripoli and brought to Europe aboard people smuggling boats. Upon their arrival or after their release from migrant detention centres, they were imprisoned by the traffickers against their will, according to investigators.

The traffickers then made the women to repay debts of up to 30,000 euros each for their transportation to Europe by forcing them to work as prostitutes. The gang threatened to kill the women and to place voodoo curses upon members of their families back home if they tried to escape, investigators said.

The trafficking gang is believed to have invested some of the money extorted from the women in real estate, said investigators probing the gang’s financial operations.