Italy police deal blow to 'violent' Nigerian mafia




Italian police say running prostitution rings is one of the crimes committed by a Nigerian mob in the country
Italian police say running prostitution rings is one of the crimes committed by a Nigerian mob in the country  

Rome (AFP) - Italian police said Thursday they had 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.

"Those who decided on the new initiations, who ran the prostitution rings, who dominated by force the other criminal organisations, who ran the drug trade in the city squares," it said.

Fifty other suspects were under investigation, it added.

Police said 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.

- 'Green bible' -

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.

"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.

Italy's far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini hailed the "maxi-operation", saying "we don't need this type of immigration. Ports closed, jails open."

COMMENTS

More Related News

Trump urges Italy
Trump urges Italy's leader to increase defense spending
  • World
  • 2019-10-16 17:30:03Z

President Donald Trump urged Italy on Wednesday to increase its defense spending as he welcomed Italian President Sergio Mattarella to the White House. Trump says Italy is only spending 1.1 percent of its gross domestic product on defense, short of a goal set by NATO allies of spending 2 percent.

Revitalized Italy on brink of record 10th straight win
Revitalized Italy on brink of record 10th straight win

From soccer flops to the brink of making history, Italy has come a long way in the two years since its embarrassing failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Italy had already qualified for the 2020 European Championship - with three matches to spare - but Tuesday's 5-0 win at Liechtenstein saw

European growth failed to
European growth failed to 'lift off' amid Brexit, slowdown: IMF economist
  • World
  • 2019-10-15 17:14:52Z

Europe's economic expansion sputtered this year, disappointing expectations due to the well-known Brexit concerns, but also because of issues within major economies like Germany and Italy, a top IMF economist told AFP. Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, deputy director of the IMF Research Department, said weakening global demand means those export-dependent economies face growing challenges. "Europe had a very strong 2017 and very strong beginning of 2018 and we were really hoping we would see a liftoff in European growth," he said in an interview.

Italy readies
Italy readies 'web tax' in its 2020 budget: sources

Italy is readying a new tax on digital companies in its 2020 budget, as it seeks alternative revenues that will allow it to scrap a scheduled increase in sales tax, two coalition sources told Reuters on Monday. The scheme is expected to yield around 600 million euros each year, and will apply to companies with annual global revenues worth at least 750 million euros and digital services exceeding 5.5 million euros in Italy. The plan is broadly in line with proposals from the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation (OECD), which last week urged governments to redraw rules for taxing global giants.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.