The Talita organization helps women get out of human trafficking in Sweden. Now, the organization claims to have helped several women forced to prostitute, and to sell sex to the Nigerian mafia-like organization Black Ax.

- We know they have been active here. The difference between them and other similar networks from Nigeria is that Black Ax is more modern in its way of working. They use technology to avoid police and they can legislate and adapt human trafficking to it, says Andrea, operations manager for Talita in Gothenburg.

SVT News West has been in contact with the police department for trafficking in human beings, which states that lately they have focused mostly on other types of trafficking than prostitution, and that they are therefore not aware of how established Black Ax is in Gothenburg.

"Don't know what organization they really work for"

The organization Talita does not want to state exactly how many women you have had contact with who should have been part of the Black Ax, but Andrea's head of operations Andrea wants to point out that the number of blacks can be large.

- Very few of the women from Nigeria dare to talk about their traffickers at all. And many are so far down the hierarchy that they don't know what organization they really work for, she says.

According to Black Ax's own constitution, it is forbidden to say that you belong to the organization.

Several freely

In the big drug deal where prosecutors this week brought charges against 15 people, there were a number of people connected to the Black Ax. But now the Customs Crime Unit in Gothenburg states that the organization is still operating in Gothenburg.

- We have evidence that there are people living in Gothenburg who belong to the Black Ax. It is people who control and pose and organize both drug smuggling and other crimes, says Pär Eriksson, investigator at the Customs Crime Unit in Gothenburg.

SVT: Why haven't they been prosecuted?

- It is important to be able to prove the participation in these crimes that we have conducted a preliminary investigation, and we have not come all the way there.

It is the Customs Administration that has led the work on the major drug addiction, which has therefore focused mostly on the drug. The police must have received information from the Customs Administration that may lead to new investigations. Deputy Chief of the Customs Crime Unit in Gothenburg, Gill Eriksson does not want to go into what information has been passed on.

- But it is always the case that we have the opportunity to pass on information that we think is of interest to the police.

More violent than what has emerged

During the week, several media outlets reported that Black Ax is not very violent in Sweden, but that people are often threatened with violence against people's family members in Nigeria. However, the Talita organization states that women whom it has helped have been subjected to serious violence.

"Some have had knife scars on the body, and have been subjected to torture," says Andrea and continues:

- One thing that applies to the vast majority of women we have received from Nigeria is that they have received a curse on them which makes them very afraid to leave the human trafficking.

Started as a student association

Black Ax has become known for using so-called jujju, black magic, to force people into submission. But the organization started as a student association at Benin university in southern Nigeria in the 70s. The idea then was to promote the plight of blacks and fight for the freedom of African people from neo-colonialism. But over the years, the organization has become increasingly violent and, according to information in Nigerian media, has been linked to a series of murders and other violent incidents in Nigeria.

Now, the Black Ax is found in many places in the world and they have become known for engaging in drug smuggling, human trafficking, fraud and money laundering, according to the Customs Crime Unit.


Listen to Gill Eriksson, Deputy Head of the Customs Crime and Chamber Prosecutor Anna Svedin tell about the prosecution in the clip above. Photo: SVT