Italian police said on Monday, April 26, they had arrested 30 suspected members of the Nigerian Black Axe mafia gang that have been operating in many regions of the country.
The Black Axe members, including their alleged leader, were detained in Italy after a series of raids around the country, police have said.
All those seized were Nigerian nationals. The suspects face almost 100 charges, including mafia association, drug trafficking, illegal immigration, prostitution, computer fraud and money laundering, which involved cryptocurrency, police said in a statement on Monday.
The operation – codenamed “Hello Bross” – involved state police, as well as officers in Rome, Rieti, Bari, Caserta, Naples, Reggio Emilia, Parma, Modena, Catania, Genoa, Messina, Potenza and Terni.
Reporting the development, RT alleged that the “Black Axe mafia has attained a reputation for ritual murders, mutilation and rape since originating in Africa in the 1990s.”
Police said they had arrested a 35-year-old man who led the Italian “branch” of Black Axe from his home in the city of L’Aquila in the central Abruzzo region. The gang’s parent organization is managed from Nigeria.
“There is evidence that the members had a direct connection with the Nigerian gang, drawing on the same vocabulary, symbols and affiliation rituals,” police said.
Most of the suspects’ alleged crimes are web-based scams, including using bitcoin to buy the numbers of cloned credit cards on the dark web for online shopping.
Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese said Italy was showing its determination to tackle organised crime, Reuters reports.