Major bust leads to the arrest of 73 Nigerian Mafia members in Italy
Italian police have arrested 73 members of the Nigerian mafia in Italy over the last two days. One of the members is believed to be their leader, 50-year-old Emmanuel “Boogye” Okenwa, who was taken into custody by undercover Italian officers in Verona as he was getting ready to leave the country.
The bust was carried out in Turin and Ferrara, and was a combined effort between 200 officers. In Turin, 43 were arrested, while the remaining 31 were raided in Ferrara. Other notable gang members who were arrested were “Strike chief”, “Executional”, and “Arkman”. Several women who were reportedly running prostitution rings were also captured.
The Nigerian mafia, also known as “Arobaga Vikings” and “Norseman Kclub”, is organized into cells called Decks, and are present in many cities in Italy. This has been reportedly founded on a deal between the Nigerians and Italians, where the Nigerians are compensating Italian mafia families to operate on their turf.
Sending women into Italy from Nigeria has been one of their most lucrative business models. The Nigerian government in 2003 had established the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), a law enforcement agency to combat human trafficking and other similar human rights violations.
In spite of this, women and girls – some as young as 14 – are still being lured to Italy with the offer of jobs as hairdressers, beauticians and baby sitters, only to end up as sex slaves. According to recent reports, 80% of Nigerian women who come to Italy end up as victims of sex trafficking.
Many victims are scared to leave the trafficking ring, as they are forced to undergo religious rituals where they are told that their family will be harmed upon an escape attempt.