File photo: Nigerian mafia gang leaders arrested in Italy

The Italian police have given graphic details of how a Nigerian-made Mafia, code-named MAPHITE operated before the latest crackdown with the arrest of its major leaders.

MAPHITE as a mob group like the Italian mafia is involved in the drugs business. But unlike the Italian mafia, it is also involved in sex trafficking and prostitution rings.

The inside details came in 
a two-year probe — aided significantly by a man on the inside who briefed investigators and allowed them to destroy much of the ‘MAPHITE’ cult.

Police said the acronym stood for Maximum Academic Performance Highly Intellectuals Train Executioner

According to the police, the Nigerian mob used “urban guerrilla warfare which continued for days at a time” to maintain territorial control.

The ‘cult’ was just one of a series of foreign organised crime groups which had adopted Italian mafia codes, police said.

While they have much in common, they are independently structured and “in strong rivalry with each other”, it added.

Maphite was founded back in the 1980s — along with other Nigerian gangs such as the Black Axe and the Vikings — before developing into a full-blown organised crime group in the 1990s, police said.

It adopted the moniker Green Circuit Association to camouflage its international expansion and is now widespread in many countries around the world.

The top mobsters are known in gang lingo as the Main Chief, Deputy Don, Checker (the treasurer) and Fire — who is in charge of giving orders, while an executive committee carries them out.

Members have to follow strict rules of conduct laid out in the so-called “Green Bible”, kept safe by the leader. The commandments of the Green Bible included the ‘Mario Monti’ norm on recycling money to countries of origin, police said.

“New members are initiated following precise rituals, and treason is met with corporal or lethal punishment,” police said.

The rituals included new members being first beaten then asked to swear allegiance while holding burning paper, using the words “if I reveal our secrets, this fire will burn me and all I own”, Italian media reported, citing investigators.

Four subsets within the Maphite were identified: the ‘Vatican Family’, in Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany, the ‘Latin Family’ in the northwest, the ‘Rome Family Empire’ in central Italy, and the ‘Light House of Sicily Family’ in the islands, they said.

Maphite maintains close ties to Nigeria, so that those who cross it fear retaliation not just in Italy but there too, police said.

Paolo Borgna, deputy prosecutor in Turin, said the foreign mafias “are born and develop by giving protection to their countrymen and developing a kind of parallel, ruthless and criminal justice”.

“It is a characteristic shared by all mafias: protection is offered, compensation is requested, protection is imposed and, finally, those who do not accept it are punished,” he told journalists at a press conference.

He said Maphite had a common fund which the newly-affiliated paid into when they joined.

“It’s not a refined mafia… but not one to be underestimated. It must be contained now,” he added.