Nigerian Man Convicted Of Human Trafficking In Belgium, Arrested In United States; Extradition Proceedings Pending
CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX: (716) 551-3051
BUFFALO, N.Y.—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Edward Eguavoen, 45, of Nigeria, who was convicted in Belgium of human trafficking for the purposes of prostitution, was arrested and held for extradition.
“To those who thought that slavery ended centuries ago, this case stands as a stark reminder that human beings are still being stolen and forced into incomprehensible conditions,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “Nor do the problems of the world avoid Buffalo. Because of the devastation that human trafficking brings to victims and society, this Office will not hesitate to prosecute any who would engage in this sort of unconscionable crime.”
Assistant U.S Attorney Paul J. Campana, who is handling the case, stated that according to the underlying complaint supporting the arrest, Eguavoen attempted to enter the United States at the Peace Bridge Port of Entry on December 21, 2014 using a Canadian passport under a different name. Subsequent investigation by the Department of Homeland Security determined that the defendant is wanted by Belgian authorities on a 2005 human trafficking conviction.
The Belgian conviction involves the forced inducement of seven Nigerian women for prostitution between July 1999 and November 2002. The victims were brought from Nigeria to Belgium by a criminal organization of which the defendant was a member. Once in Belgium, the victims were given documentation indicating Sierra Leon as their country of origin, and told to file applications for asylum in Belgium.
The victims were then taken and forced into prostitution in brothel houses controlled by the criminal organization. The victims were given “working names” and advertised in magazines and newspapers. The organization running the prostitution business threatened the victims to prevent them from speaking to law enforcement.
Sometime following his 2005 conviction, the defendant fled Belgium. The defendant was subsequently sentenced in absentia in October 2007 to concurrent seven year prison terms. The defendant had apparently been residing in Canada prior to his most recent arrest.
The defendant made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott and is being detained. Eguavoen is due back in court on February 4, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.
The extradition arrest and complaint is the result of an investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James C. Spero.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.