Franca Asemota from Benin, Edo State, has been found guilty of eight counts of conspiracy to traffic young girls.

Ms Asemota, 38, forced dozens of teenage orphans into prostitution and slavery using the threat of witchcraft. She used Heathrow as a hub to traffic at least 40 girls and young women into Europe from remote villages in Nigeria after promising them jobs, education and a better life.

She then used ‘witchcraft’, threats and violence to force them in to the European sex trade. She was later arrested in Nigeria, extradited to the UK for trial and has now been sentenced.

Prosecutor David Davies said Asemota targeted girls from poor, rural backgrounds with little knowledge of the world, promising them legitimate jobs in Europe between August 2011 and May 2012.

"Only when they were far away from their homes were they told the truth – that they would have to work as prostitutes," Davies said in a statement.

"The girls were told that if they disobeyed their captors or tried to escape, the curse would cause them injury, infertility or even death."

Prosecutions for human trafficking in England and Wales have increased since the introduction of a new anti-slavery law last year, with about 180 people prosecuted between April and December 2015, which prosecutors said was a new record.

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