A Nigerian mafia called the Vikings in Italy met their waterloo as the police swooped on them in the last two days, leading to the arrest of about 73 members, including their leader, 50-year-old Emmanuel Okenwa aka ‘Boogye’.
Agency reports yesterday quoted Italian police as saying that Okenwa was arrested by undercover officers in the city of Verona as he prepared to flee the country.
According to ThisDay, more than 200 Italian policemen were involved in the operation which happened in the cities of Turin and Ferrara.
In all, 31 people were arrested in Ferrara and a further 43 were taken into custody in Turin, including several women who allegedly ran prostitution rackets.
According to the Italian authorities, the Vikings and other groups traffic Nigerian women to Italy and force them to work as prostitutes.
Gang members have names such as “Strike chief”, “Executional” and “Arkman”.
Each group demands a cult-like loyalty from its followers and subjects’ new members to initiation rites.
Bologna preliminary investigations judge Gianluca Petragnani Gelosi said the Vikings’ criminal plan was to “violently annihilate” other Nigerian crime outfits and take over their turf.
Trafficking Nigerian women to Italy to become street prostitutes is one of their most lucrative criminal activities.
The UN migration agency estimates that 80 per cent of Nigerian women who come to Italy are victims of sex trafficking.
Many of the women are forced to undergo voodoo-style religious rituals in which they are told they or their families will be harmed if they try to escape the sex trade.