Two Nigerian people trafficking suspects arrested in Italy

Two suspects have been held in Italy accused of belonging to gang which trafficked "vulnerable" young women between Nigeria, Libya and Italy and forced them into prostitution, police said on Tuesday.

Police did not state the suspects' nationalities but said they were arrested in the Sicilian city of Agrigento and in Alessandria in the northwest Piedmont region.

The arrests were the latest in an ongoing operation against the alleged gang and were made on the orders of Sicilian prosecutors, police said.

During an earlier phase of the operation three Nigerians and a Ghanian were arrested in southern Italy in June accused of charging young Nigerian women 30,000 euros for the their passage to Italy and supposed placing in regular jobs.

Once the women landed in Italy, usually on the island of Lampedusa, and were taken to a migrant reception centres, the trafficking gang threatened, beat and drugged them, forcing them to work as prostitutes, investigators allege.

The women were made to hand over their earnings to the gang to pay off the 30,000 euros it said they owed, according to investigators.