Operatives of the Italian Police Force known as Polizia di Stato have arrested no fewer than 15 Nigerians and members of the ‘Eiye’ confraternity.
In an operation dubbed “Pesha” which ended Tuesday morning, the members of the gang were also accused of intimidating young girls into prostitution, money laundering, among others.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Italian Police Force said members of the ‘Eiye’ cult, which had roots in Nigeria, have a series of international contacts in France, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, and other European countries.
Eiye is a mythological bird of the Nigerian tradition and members of the cult tend to be in it “for life” once initiated.
The police had got a tip-off from a disgruntled member of the group who was brutalised after violating some of the codes of the cult.
The Operation Pesha officers were thus deployed to the suspects’ hideout and coven where they arrested 15 of them while four others are at large.
The statement reads in part: “The 15 people detained by order of the L’Aquila District Anti-Mafia Directorate are of Nigerian nationality.
“All those arrested belong to the “Pesha” cell which had its influence on the entire Adriatic coastal area from Teramo to Ancona.
“The number of crimes committed by members of the mafia organization is impressive: money laundering and illegal financial intermediation towards Nigeria; trafficking in young women sexually exploited along the Bonifica del Tronto road and subjected to violence and harassment; drug supply; violent crimes against members of other groups or punitive towards other compatriots.”
The Police said the suspects have been detained at its headquarters in Teramo and would be prosecuted.