Italian police on Tuesday detained 19 Nigerians in a crackdown of an alleged cult-like organized crime group specializing in drug dealing and trafficking women from their homeland, forcing them into prostitution on Italy's streets.
Police said in a statement that the crime cell they targeted operated in the areas of Ancona, an Adriatic port city, and Teramo, also in eastern Italy.
The group, known as EIYE, with roots in Nigeria, uses violent initiation rites for its members, investigators said.
Most of those detained were in Italy illegally, police said. Four suspects were still at large, according to a report by the Associated Press.
In a recent report, Italy's anti-Mafia investigators said Nigerian crime syndicates often work out arrangements with Italian mobsters to be able to deal with drugs in their area without turf wars.
The report by the DIA investigative body said the Nigerian mafias operating in Italy invest money gained from prostitution by trafficked women into their drug trafficking activities.