Nigerian Mafia: Police Make 73 Arrests in Italy

A major operation against a Nigerian Mafia organization in Italy has resulted in police making dozens of arrests, according to Italian newspaper ANSA

Police arrested a total of 73 people on Wednesday, from the organization known as Arobaga Vikings or Norsemen Kclub International. Around 200 police took part in the operation, which  netted 31 arrests in Ferrara, and over 40 in Turin. Among those captured was Emmanuel Okenwa, also known as Boogye, a 50-year-old AfroBeat DJ. He is widely reputed to be one of the leading figures in the organization, and the self-styled ‘King of Ferrara’. Okenwa was arrested in Verona by undercover officers, as he was preparing to leave the country. Several women were also arrested on suspicion of running prostitution rackets. 

The Nigerian Mafia deals mainly in prostitution and drug trafficking, and the organization is active in many cities in Italy, predominantly split into local cells, known as ‘decks’. 

Nigerian Mafia arrests Photo: PM News, Nigeria

Italian authorities say that Nigerian women are trafficked to Italy and they are then forced into prostitution. Some are still children, as young as fourteen, and all are lured to Italy with offers of legitimate work. They are then kept in the country as sex slaves, often being told that they or their families will be harmed if they try to escape. Sex trafficking is one of the most lucrative activities for the Nigerian Mafia. 

READ: 20 Mafia Arrests in Palermo Extortion Case

Gianluca Petragnani Gelosi, preliminary investigations judge of Bologna, said the Vikings’ criminal plan was to “violently annihilate” other Nigerian crime outfits and take over their turf.

Italian Interior Minister, Luciana Lamorgese, said the police guard against criminal organizations and their illegal trafficking was high even amid the COVID emergency.

Opposition leader Matteo Salvini, of the rightist nationalist Euroskeptic and anti-migrant League party, congratulated the police and accused the ruling centre-left Democatic Party of “denying” the problem of the Nigerian mafia. 

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