CONNECTION HOUSE

Sicilian Mafia and Nigerian Gangs. Italy 2017-2018

About 16,000 Nigerian women arrived in Italy from Libya between 2016-2017. According to the UN’s International Office for Migration (IOM) more than 80% of them were victims of trafficking, destined for a life of forced prostitution on street corners and in brothels across Italy and Europe. Only in Palermo there is dozens of "connection houses" organized by Nigerian human traffickers and gang members, who controlled prostitution and hard drug market with permission from Sicilian mafia.
Connection house is not only brothel, it's also a meeting and entertainment house, a bar and kitchen for Nigerian and other western Africans, who visit it every evening.

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Nigerian gang member in connection house at Ballaro in Palermo.

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Nigerian gang member with one of the prostitute in connection house in centre of Palermo.

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Graffiti in Nigerian brothel in center of Ballaro district. It's not only brothel with room for prostitutes and their clients but also bar, kitchen, hair salon ad disco club. The cheapest sex service is even 5-10 Euro. 35.000 Euro is the agreement for young Nigerian girls to get in to Europe from their country. Trips are organized by gangs and Mafia, many young girls are victims of human traffickers promised them work in hair saloon, but at the end they have to work for free on the streets or brothels for minimum 2 years to pay money back to Mafia. This brothel been shot down by police in 2018 after big fight about women, arranged by local Nigerian and Italians gangs.

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26 years old Nigerian man, smoking weed in new connection house run by his friend, Nigerian woman, in the centre of Palermo. At this connection house you can buy Nigerian food, beer or weed, you can also watch Nigerian soup operas or meet the Western African girls. This place is very difficult to find, but all Nigerians from that area know how to get there by word of mouth.

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Young Italian girl, addicted to drugs, came to local brothel located at the district with highest level of refugee and migrants in Palermo, to sell her family jewellery to prostitutes. At the Ballaro is the biggest second hand market in the centre of Palermo with many stolen goods and Chinese products selling by Italians, migrants and refugees.

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Young Nigerian gang member at the connection house smoking marijuana.

Homeless Nigerian, leaving connection house in the centre of Palermo. He use to work in kitchen, cleaning the dishes at the one of restaurant at the beach for a few months during the summer season, for 20 Euro per day (12-14 hrs of work). He have a several months old son and his partner lives in centre for lonely mothers near Palermo, he don't have even money for ticket to visit his son.

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Nigerian woman in entrance to one of the connection house in Palermo.

Nigerian prostitute in the brothel in centre of Palermo.

Western African man at the moment of arrest at the street of migrants district in Palermo. High level of unemployment, no benefits for migrants and refugees in Italy, create the situation that many of Africans are used by Sicilian Mafia to work as hard drug dealers. Everybody knows that, and it's clear for carabinieri and police officers that only Africans can deal hard drugs on the streets. After one black person is arrested, it's much cheaper for Mafia to get another African and ask him to sell drugs on the street, otherwise in case of arrest Italian person, following they rules, Mafia have to care about his family. The photograph presents a found situation at the moment when young Italian girl been asking African boys for crack at the street.

Young Nigerian women at the connection house after Sunday church service.

Carabinieri officers in front of the connection house at the Ballaro in Palermo.