Italian police said yesterday 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 any 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 organization.
“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.