Italian police on Tuesday arrested 16 people as they smashed a Nigerian mafia drugs ring in the northern city of Trento, Insidenaija reports.
Police also carried out 20 raids in the regions of Trentino, Veneto and Lombardy in the operation, codenamed ‘Underground’.
Police said the gang controlled the drugs trade in Trento.
It was based, however, in the back of a Nigerian ethnic goods store in the Veneto city of Verona, police said – while the drugs were stored in another Veneto city, Vicenza.
Pushers allegedly ‘commuted’ to and from Trento and Verona on the train, police said.
Pushers could earn as much as 2,500 euros a day.
The drugs traffic and distribution was allegedly managed by a Nigerian woman, Agho Isoken Tina, aka Mamma T, who was allegedly assisted by her son and sister-in-law, police said.
The gang allegedly used the proceeds of prostitution, one of the Nigerian mafia’s staple occupations, to buy the drugs.
Trento Flying Squad Commander Tommaso Niglio said many of the pushers were poor asylum seekers.
He said they would often swallow the doses, risking their lives, rather than face arrest.
Police seized half a kilogramme of cocaine and heroin in the bust.