Mafia in Veneto, the most mysterious of the “imported”: the Nigerian one. Drugs and prostitution between initiations, voodoo rites and … entrepreneurial spirit


(Translated From Italian)

Among the “imported” mafias in our region there is one that is still quite mysterious and obscure today, the “Nigerian mafia” .

As Federica Cabras wrote in 2014, Nigerian organized crime cannot have “… a single definition …” , as it “… constitutes a system rather than a single structure, composed of cells of different criminal caliber organized within them by a vertical structure capable, at the same time, of acting in isolation as components of a reticular structure “ .

Definitely not easy to understand, but let’s try to explain it in simple words: this mafia is not a phenomenon that can be defined as a single structure, on the  “mala del Brenta” style of which we have already spoken, which despite being a federation of gangs still had a minimal centralization, at least in the figure of Felice Maniero . The Nigerian mafia is made up of various groups and individuals capable of affiliating and dissolving even after having completed a single criminal job, without centralization or a defined hierarchy of roles.

But the system does not stop there: there are, within it, structures defined as “Cults” , originally student associations of Nigerian universities that have become real criminal clans with their own initiation rites, their own hierarchy, their own structure.

These Cults have become known in Italy with their own names, in particular the “Black Ax” (Black Ax) , which is often used loosely as a synonym of the same “Nigerian mafia”.

Such groups at home would, however, be connected to much larger and more structured “criminal enterprises” , authentic holding companies : these supposed links have given rise to some hypotheses that would see the various Cults as nothing more than branches of a single organization, managed by a single top . It is not a certainty but a doubt, which was exposed in November 2019 by the current national anti-mafia prosecutor Federico Cafiero De Raho , who recalled how even for the ‘Ndrangheta it was only in 2010 that a level of coordination higher than all the gangs.

The Nigerian mafia in the Veneto area, unlike the Italian mafias, does not insinuate itself deeply into the economic fabric, but feeds crime linked to drug trafficking, prostitution, illegal immigration and extortion.

In November 2016 the news came that an important boss of the “Black Ax” was arrested in Zevio (Verona) , while in July 2019 affiliates of the “Maphite” , another Nigerian cult, ended up in handcuffs, also in Verona . In December 2019, an organization that managed a large part of the shop in the streets of Trento was dismantled , with  Vicenza and Verona as supply and departure bases.

On 10 July 2018, however, a maxi operation in the station area in Mestre was hit, where an organization belonging to the “Eiye” Cult circuit was hit . The leader of the group escapes arrest until February 2019, when he is captured in Germany , from where he continued to manage and control the gang’s affairs. This Mestre-Venetian group was the driving force behind the sale of “yellow heroin” , a particular new quality of drug, responsible for the deaths of several young people in the north east.

On November 21, 2018, two other Nigerians, senior “Eiye” ranks , were arrested during the “Calypso” operation . They are resident in Padua and Treviso .

The Nigerian mafia is therefore very well integrated in the region and, although it is not capable of infiltrating the large economic circuit of companies and businesses, it manages to obtain very high earnings, especially thanks to drug dealing and prostitution.

Regarding the management of sex trafficking, it is now known how girls forced into prostitution are subjugated through physical and psychological violence, the latter practiced especially through the rites of voodoo : the direct testimonies of how the rituals served to “mark at a distance” are chilling. the families of the girls, so that if any of them fled or denounced the clan, they would suffer a death in the family due to the curse.

However, it seems, listening to some voices from the street, that there is also another parallel channel of prostitution, always managed by Nigerians; a channel that does not use threats, on the contrary, is persuasive. The girls would have a ” ticket ” for the trip to Italy, to be reimbursed to the organization, and they would be given a sidewalk on “loan for use”  with a ” monthly loan  until the “ticket” is fully paid . Once the payment is closed, the girls would be free to manage their lives, abandoning the streets and exploiters.

What would be the gain for the clan in this case? A considerable savings in “protection”: these prostitutes would not have guardians to control the passage, with a considerable saving of resources (and a lower risk of arrests) for the criminal gang.

No “protector” would also imply no beating caused by too low income (violence with consequences that often force sex slaves not to work for several days) and a continuous, quiet and steady presence would be seen on the roadsides that would generally lure new potential users of prostitution with an overall higher “return” for the prostitution business.

Furthermore, this system, which would develop an “entrepreneurial” mentality in prostitutes (ie the freedom granted to the young woman to keep more money than the “mortgage” would be an incentive for her to work in a decidedly continuous manner) would also gratify it would also lead to greater  customer “loyalty” .

In fact, they would find themselves faced with girls not moved by the need to accumulate numerous payers to increase the revenues of the night, but by the desire to create a stable and safe network, similar to escorts but at much lower prices. Therefore, entrepreneur prostitutes would theoretically be not very “mechanical” and “cold” in the sexual act, therefore they would always theoretically provide more rewarding services to the subject who pays than the classic and fleeting  “street sex” .

The counterpart?

Meanwhile, the risks of this hypothetical dynamic could be high, because these girls, although they do not have the classic torturers to squeeze them, without guardians of any kind on the spot would still find themselves able to be subjected to very violent aggressions, basically of a sexual nature.

Furthermore, these young women would end up in the best of cases in the lap of luxury prostitution (with many of the aforementioned “loyal customers” ready to pay higher prices), again through ties with the organization, in which they would have unfortunately acquired confidence.

In the worst case, these lives would simply be lost.

Having seen the extreme variety of the Nigerian mafia, it is possible to conceive that there are different levels of exploitation of women, from a more classic and evidently slave-like to a more subtle and hypocritical but with always negative effects.

However, we must start from an obvious premise: this mafia did not take root by itself. Drugs and prostitution are two markets that need customers, who do not come from the world of immigrants. The customers of drug dealers and street girls are mainly local natives, people born, live and work in Veneto.

Dennis Vincent Klapwijk

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