Nigerian gangs are now moving into Cosa Nostra territory
The Italian mafia now has to deal with the Nigerian gangs encroaching on its territory.
Decades of migration is the reason behind this. These Nigerian gangsters slip into Italy illegally along with millions of Africans looking to better their lives.
As time has gone by, these Nigerian gangs have been able to put a proper structure in place to recruit migrants who have no official status in the country.
There are thousands of illegal immigrants in Italy (including a lot of Nigerians). These people can't apply for jobs, can't get work permits and are officially not recognized as refugees. This limits their chances of getting a decent job in the country.
This is where the Nigerian gangs come in. They recruit these poor Africans into their criminal enterprise and introduce them to a world of drug dealing and prostitution.
Palermo, Sicily, which is the traditional home of the famous Italian mafia has started to notice Nigerian gangs getting a piece of the pie on its turf.
VICE News has released a video which highlights the growing power of these Nigerian gangs. VICE visited Ballarò a market area in Palermo. Formerly run by the Italian mafia, the Nigerian mobsters have taken over.
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In Ballarò, the Nigerian gangs run their drug business there and rent out brothels. This is a strong example of how the Nigerians are taking over.
Now because of their growing influence, the Italian mafia has found a way to deal with these Nigerian gangs. They no longer operate on the turf but allow the Nigerians do whatever business they want to do as long as they pay tax.
This is a way of keeping control of the crime area while recognizing the changing power structure. Failure to pay the tax leads to serious consequences. At the end of the day, it is the Cosa Nostra (another name for the Italian mafia) we are still talking about.
As the Italian mafia adjusts to the new game so also are the Italian authorities. Old anti-mafia laws are being brought back to land heavier sentences on these Nigerian gangsters.
The authorities fear that if the Nigerian mafia is not controlled it would embolden other African crime syndicates in the country to make bold moves.
With all that has been put in place, it doesn't seem the Nigerian mafia will be wiped away soon. These gangs are getting a fresh supply of recruits every week.
In one week in September, Italy picked up another 2,000 migrants. The country has recorded 6,500 arrivals since mid-July.
In August 2017, leaders from seven African and European countries met in Paris on for a mini-summit to discuss how to ease the EU's migrant crisis.
A total of 125,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean by boat this year, according to UN figures, with the vast majority arriving in Italy before travelling on to other EU members. An estimated 2,400 have died en route.
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