No fewer than 73 members of a Nigerian mafia organisation in Italy, including their leader, 50-year-old Emmanuel Okenwa aka ‘Boogye’, have been arrested.
The operation, the second since a similar one in July 2019, was carried out by more than 200 Italian policemen in Turin and Ferrara.
Italian newspaper ANSA said Police made dozens of arrests against the Nigerian mafia organization called Arobaga Vikings or Norsemen Kclub International.
It is organized into local cells called Decks and present in many Italian cities.
National leaders of the mafia, which deals mainly in prostitution and drug trafficking were arrested.
They included Boogye’, an AfroBeat DJ andthe self-styled “King of Ferrara”.
In all, 31 people were arrested in Ferrara.
A further 43 were taken into custody in Turin, including several women who allegedly ran prostitution rackets.
Bologna preliminary investigations judge Gianluca Petragnani Gelosi said the Vikings’ criminal plan was to “violently annihilate” other Nigerian crime outfits and take over their turf.
Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese said the police guard against criminal organizations and their illegal trafficking was high even amid the COVID emergency.
In July last year, Italian police also arrested 19 suspected members of a Nigerian mob, including the leaders of a clan which forged alliances with other mafias and violently punished anyone who rebelled.
In an operation dubbed “Burning Flame”, coordinated by police in Bologna and Turin, over 300 officers carried out arrests and searches in nine cities across northern Italy from Bergamo to Modena, Parma and Ravenna.
A two-year probe — aided significantly by a man on the inside who fed details to investigators — “has allowed us to destroy much of what, within the Nigerian community, is known as the ‘Maphite’ cult,” police said in a statement.
It said the acronym stood for Maximum Academic Performance Highly Intellectuals Train Executioner.
“Among those arrested were those who held a leading role within the criminal organisation.
In a related development, the Italian police also cracked down on the multinational Ndrangheta mafia.
The police on Thursday seized 50 million euros in goods and property from three businessmen in Reggio Calabria, linked to the Calabria-based ‘Ndrangheta mafia.
Antonino Scimone, 45, Antonino Mordà (51) and Pietro Canale (41) are suspected of close links to noted Calabrian clans, police said.
The three were among 27 people arrested in February 2018 in a major operation against usury and fraud that seized 51 companies, 18 pieces of real estate, and froze accounts worth some 100 million euros.
*Updated at 1800 GMT on Friday