Italian police have arrested 30 suspected members of Nigeria’s Black Axe crime syndicate – a secret society that emerged in Nigerian universities in the 1970s.
The early morning raids were carried out in several locations across L’Aquila, a city in central Italy. The suspects have been charged with a series of offences, including drug trafficking, weapons possession, fraud and links with organised crime.
In the past, Black Axe members have been accused of ritualistic killings, sexual assault and internet fraud.
The investigation was part of a wider anti-corruption sting that involved the arrest of around 100 mafia figures in Bari, a port city in southern Italy, charged, among other things, with murder and extortion. The suspects are believed to include the head of organised crime families.
“I want to express my satisfaction with the anti-mafia operations we’ve conducted in Bari and L’Aquila this week,” the Interior Minister, Luciana Lamorgese, said. “They represent the excellent result of our police forces' intensive and constant investigative work in coordination with the judiciary.”
Over 400 officers were used to conduct the two investigations.
“It demonstrates the strong presence of the state,” Lamorgese added, “and the abilities of the judiciary and the police force to fight against old and new mafias that try to expand the geographical reach of their criminal activity and to develop a hyperlocal control of their territories even by using extortion.”