Poor African women are apparently being smuggled into Britain as sex slaves every year under the threat of black magic curses. UK police believe that 'close to all' the 160 Nigerian victims rescued last year had been subjected to sinister rituals aimed at terrifying them into submission.
Many were taken to witchdoctors who cut them, rubbed black powder in their wounds and threatened them with death if they ran away from their captors.
In some cases young women were forced to sleep in coffins, drink chicken hearts soaked in alcohol or 'sacrifice' intimate items.
The disturbing reality of the little known crime emerged as three human smugglers were jailed for a total of 13 years.
Olusoji Oluwafemi, 44, Johnson Olayinka, 45, and Florence Obadiaru, 48, were the London connection in a global trafficking conspiracy.
They conned an innocent 23-year-old into flying to Heathrow on a bogus passport with the promise of education, a job and a new home.
But instead she was raped, beaten and subjected to a 'juju' ritual before being sent to Italy where she was destined to be pimped out on the streets as a prostitute.
The victim's terrible ordeal was only uncovered when officials in Milan spotted her forged passport and sent her back to London where she was saved by police.
Liam Vernon, of the National Crime Agency (NCA), said her experience is typical of many other Nigerian victims.
He said: 'This isn't a phenomenon that is just affecting Britain, it is a Europe-wide problem. They are moving women around to avoid detection.
'These rituals are simply a method controlling the women who are from a region where juju is not always seen as necessarily a bad thing.
'But it is very powerful and there are very strong beliefs that you must adhere to what is said or very bad things will happen to you and your family.'
Investigators believe the 23-year-old victim, who was poorly educated and spoke little English, is just one of many victims of the Nigeria-based organised crime group.
The trio were in constant contact with a shadowy 'fixer' woman who prowled poor Nigerian villages looking for young women to exploit.
The woman, who remains at the centre of an international manhunt, also supplied women to another crime gang that was smashed last year.
Investigators discovered the victim volunteered to travel to London because her family had fallen into hardship since the sudden death of her father in 2008.
She was told that she must repay £40,000 by working in Britain and taken to a witchdoctor to pledge her total obedience to the gang.
The woman swore an oath in a juju ceremony that involved cutting her armpit and pubic hair and taking finger nail clippings.
She flew to Heathrow in September 2011 before spending several weeks at the house of Obadiaru, in Brockley, South East London.
The victim was then provided with a false passport and throwaway mobile phone and sent to Milan where immigration officials turned her away.
On her return it took weeks and several pain-staking interviews before experts from the NCA could understand what had happened to her.
Mastermind and counterfeiter Oluwafemi, who orchestrated the British side of the operation, was jailed for six-and-a-half years.
Johnson Olayinka, 45, who collected the victim from Heathrow and organised her false UK passport, was jailed for four-and-a-half years.
Florence Obadiaru, 48, who kept the victim at her home in London for two-and-a-half weeks before she left for Italy, was jailed for two years.
She has worked as a care assistant for ten years and has just finished a degree in nursing at Bedford University in Luton.
Judge Rebecca Poulet QC told them: 'This was a sophisticated and carefully planned operation in Nigeria which must have cost a considerable amount of money to the traffickers.
'The expected returns were also considerable. She was subjected to a juju ritual with the threat of death.
'She would have been forced into controlled prostitution as she had no possible way in which she could conceivably support herself in Italy.'