Suspect Antonino Fanara, center, is taken into custody during an anti-mafia operation lead by the Italian Police and the FBI in Palermo, Southern Italy, Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Igor Petix/ANSA Via AP)
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Italian police said Thursday they had arrested 19 suspected members of a Nigerian mob, including the leaders of a clan that forged alliances with other mafias and violently punished anyone who rebelled. In an operation dubbed "Burning Flame," coordinated by police in Bologna and Turin, over 300 officers carried out arrests and searches in nine cities across northern Italy from Bergamo to Modena, Parma and Ravenna.The "cult" was just one of a series of foreign organized crime groups that had adopted Italian mafia codes, police said.Maphite was founded back in the 1980s, along with other Nigerian gangs such as the Black Axe and the Vikings, before developing into a full-blown organized crime group in the 1990s, police said.Maphite maintains close ties to Nigeria, so that those who cross it fear retaliation not just in Italy but there too, police said.
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