BY Mark Babatunde, 4:00pm November 21, 2016,

Italian Police Arrest Members of Nigeria’s ‘Black Axe’ Mafia Syndicate

A Black Axe suspect is detained by police. Photo Credit: Daily Post

At least 20 members of a Nigerian criminal syndicate have been arrested by Italian police in Sicily’s capital of Palermo. Police say the arrested members of the criminal gang known as the Black Axe have been charged with running a prostitution ring, person trafficking, and drug dealing. The International Business Times reports that the arrests are part of a coordinated effort by Italian authorities to control organized crime in the country. The arrests follow police raids in the cities of Milan and Torino earlier in the year.

According to police, the gang’s rise to prominence is thanks to a new wave of illegal immigrants that have entered Italy from Africa through the coast of Libya. Many of them have crossed into Italy aboard overcrowded boats and rubber dinghies, taking advantage of the lax security regulations in Libya.

In Italy, the Black Axe gang quickly aligned itself with the infamous Sicilian Mafia, gladly taking on the role of junior partners in an alliance that enabled the group to traffic drugs and distribute narcotics on street corners all over Italy. The Nigerian gang also served as a proxy to help the Italian mob operate profitable prostitution rings.

Police believe the Black Axe gang derived its name from the fact that its members can only arm themselves with axes and machetes, since the “ruling” Sicilian Mafia imposed a ban on the use fire arms by all subordinate criminal gangs.

The gang is believed to have originally been formed in the 1970s on the campus of Nigeria’s University of Benin, as a pseudo-student brotherhood. The group’s activities however increasingly turned towards  violence including physical assault, rape, and murder.

In 2011, the Nigerian ambassador to Italy wrote a letter alerting Italian authorities about the influx of such criminals into Italy. “I would like to draw your attention to the new criminal activity of a group of Nigerians belonging to secret societies. Unfortunately, former members of these sects were able to get into Italy where they reestablished their criminal organizations,” he wrote.

The activities of such criminal gangs has undone much of the good work of honest, hardworking Nigerian immigrants across Italy, who have contributed to the positive development of their immediate communities.


Last Edited by:Charles Gichane Updated: June 19, 2018


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