Nigerian Woman Sentence to 22 Years Imprisonment In The UK For Trafficking

A Nigerian woman, Franca Asemota, 38, has been
sentenced to 22 years jail term for trafficking in persons.
She was found guilty of attempting to traffic Nigerian girls
through Heathrow Airport to work as sex workers in brothels
across Europe, a statement by United Kingdom (UK) stated.
Asemota was convicted on Wednesday, 3rd August at
Isleworth Crown Court of eight counts of conspiracy to
traffic persons for sexual exploitation, two counts of
trafficking persons outside of the UK for sexual exploitation
and two counts of assisting unlawful immigration.
She was according to the statement “part of a criminal
network that trafficked girls, boys and women from Nigeria
to Europe using threats to guarantee their compliance.
Two other people were convicted in 2013 as part of
Operation Hudson. Odosa Usiobaifu, of Enfield, London, and
David Osawaru, of Benin City, were sentenced to 14 years
and nine years respectively.
Franca Asemota was identified as a trafficking suspect in
2012 but fled from Italy to Nigeria when some of her co-
conspirators were arrested by Immigration Enforcement
“She spent time in Europe before the National Crime Agency
(NCA) tracked her down to Nigeria. In an operation
coordinated by the NCA she was arrested by the Nigerian
Economic and Financial Crime Commission in Benin City in
March 2015. Once her identity was confirmed Asemota was
then extradited back to the UK in January this year.
She was found guilty of conspiracy to traffic for sexual
exploitation and assisting unlawful immigration today (3
August), after a four-week trial at Isleworth Crown Court,
and will be sentenced at the same court tomorrow (4
August). Asemota faced 12 counts in total,” the statement
David Fairclough, from the Immigration Enforcement crime
team, said: “Asemota was the lynchpin of a trafficking ring
which targeted vulnerable young women in Nigeria,
promising them a brighter future working in Europe.
“But it soon became clear that this was far from the truth.
The victims, some as young as 13, were told they would be
sold into prostitution. Asemota travelled with the girls in
order to threaten them and keep them in line.
“Trafficking is a despicable crime, as this case shows. We
work closely with our law enforcement colleagues
internationally to identify the criminal gangs responsible and
put them before the courts.”
Martin French, head of the NCA’s UK Human Trafficking
Centre, said: “Franca Asemota and her criminal network
took advantage of these vulnerable young women in some
of the worst ways possible.
They promised them a better life but in reality treated them
as nothing more than a commodity to be sold into slavery.
Asemota thought she could evade arrest by fleeing Europe
and hiding in Nigeria. But the NCA’s partnerships give us
global reach and mean international borders are no barrier
to justice.
This conviction is the result of many years of dogged
investigation and co-operation between the NCA,
Immigration Enforcement and our law enforcement
colleagues both at home and overseas.”
Asemota’s gang targeted teenage girls in remote Nigerian
villages, some of whom had never left their home area
before, telling them that educational work awaited them in
Europe. The girls would stay with her before leaving, and in
interviews with specialist officers from the NCA’s Vulnerable
Persons Team many of the girls told how they referred to
her as Auntie Franca.
Asemota travelled with the girls on flights from Lagos,
Nigeria, to Heathrow, between August 2011 and May 2012,
with the intention of reaching France. They remained airside
during the transit at Heathrow so were not subject to Border
Force passport checks. However, the trafficking attempts
were prevented when French Authorities identified the girl’s
false documents on arrival in France. When they were then
returned to the UK, Border Force officers carried out further
investigations and the case was quickly referred to
Immigration Enforcement criminal investigations.
Five of Asemota’s victims gave evidence against her during
the trial. One of them was rescued from prostitution in
Montpellier, France, during a joint operation by Immigration
Enforcement and the NCA.
The cases are part of Operation Hudson, an Immigration
Enforcement-led investigation targeting a number organised
crime groups suspected of trafficking young women, via
London, for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

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