Michelle Lanspa

Michelle Lanspa (Transnational AIDS Prevention among Migrant Prostitutes in Europe Project – TAMPEP): Michelle is from Omaha, Nebraska. She graduated from the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown university, where she majored in science and technology in international affairs with a concentration in international health. Michelle participated in many social justice activities and groups at college, including the Georgetown-UNICEF club, Education Without Boundaries (Project Argentina), and Global Justice Now (the Student Campaign for Child Survival). Michelle loves learning language learning. She learned Italian and Arabic, and had a chance to practice her language skills as an intern at the US Embassy in Rome and while studying abroad at the American University of Cairo in Egypt.

Going Public

29 Jan

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to start up again my dialogue with you all on this very important work I believe I have stayed here in Italy to do with the TAMPEP Association. This month the media presented a perfect opportunity…

January 15, news about the arrest of 66 Nigerian mafia members made the front pages of newspapers around the world. The Italian Anti-Mafia Bureau’s Naples office executed the bust, code-named “Operation Viola,” by arresting 51 Nigerians in Italy and 15 in Holland. The investigatory agencies had found these Nigerians guilty of, among other delinquencies, the trafficking of human beings and drugs into Europe. The group reportedly was caught by the strange adoption practices it had been utilizing to bring women to exploit into the EU. Last October, the Operation had succeeded in arresting 23 others in Holland, Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, the United States, and Nigeria.

A week later, January 22, more news came from the south of Italy of additional arrests of six Nigerian mafia members and two Italians in the city of Bari. The Italian police also took in these culprits as organizers of the trafficking of Nigerian women for the purpose of forced prostitution into Italy. The two Italians had helped to facilitate the immigration of the girls into the country. One of them used a tactic we often see at TAMPEP, advising the girls to apply for political asylum with the local authorities. Doing this leaves them with a document that allows them to stay in Italy until the request is denied or granted. Many Nigerians do this and think they face no more problems with documents, when in reality, the Italian government grants very few requests for political asylum filed by Nigerians.

These arrests, together with the media attention paid to the causative crimes of trafficking in human beings, is one of those major victories for both anti-crime organizations and anti-trafficking advocates, NGOs, politicians, etc. Events like this, however, happen infrequently. The suffering of their victims, the workings of their deep-reaching networks of smugglers, of document falsifiers, continue still, every hour, every day. The work of the TAMPEP Association, of many other NGOs around the world, to help little by little the girls who have been snatched up by such mafiosi, maybe also merit such media attention. Nonetheless, we should definitely celebrate the successes of Operation Viola.

Links to the news stories (in Italian): http://www.rainews24.rai.it/notizia.asp?newsid=77854, http://cc.msnscache.com/cache.aspx?q=72807894241219&lang=it-IT&w=815ee0c7

Posted By Michelle Lanspa

Posted Jan 29th, 2009


  • Carol Classe

    January 29, 2008


    It was great to see you during the holidays. Your blog is well written, very informative and a source for serious reflection. I can promise you prayers for your safety and for your work. God bless and do take care, Carol Classe

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