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CRIME

French police bust up Nigerian prostitution ring

French police said on Friday they have dismantled a Nigerian prostitution and trafficking network suspected of collecting and laundering tens of millions of euros across the country.

French police bust up Nigerian prostitution ring
A picture taken on October 19, 2013 shows a prostitute near the Matabiau railway station in Toulouse, southwestern France. AFP PHOTO / REMY GABALDA
Thirty people of Nigerian nationality were arrested during two rounds of judicial police raids in June and September following a 15 month investigation.
 
Police identified suspects who collected cash from young Nigerian women prostituting themselves in different cities across France, officers said, estimating the network laundered between €30 and €50 million ($35-58 million) in the last three years. 
 
“The collectors were moving money from Lille, Colmar, Strasbourg, Lyon, Nice, Marseille, Bordeaux, Nantes or Paris,” said head of anti-trafficking agency OCTREH, Jean-Marc Droguet.
 
A hair salon and a grocery store in northern Paris were used as collection points for the money before it was handed over to carriers who concealed the cash in double-bottomed suitcases and left the country.
 
The carriers would sometimes pass through other European capitals and African countries to avoid suspicion, officers said, but the money was always destined for Nigeria.
 
“Everything was going back home,” Droguet said.
 
Two Nigerian mafia gangs, the Supreme Eiye Confraternity (SEC) and Black Axe, were involved in the network, officers said.
 
Police have so far managed to recover just a fraction of the money: €200,000 in March and €250,000 in June.

CRIME

Italian killer with mafia links arrested in France after 16 years on the run

A convicted murderer linked to one of Italy's most powerful mafia organisations was arrested on Thursday in central France, Interpol said.

Italian killer with mafia links arrested in France after 16 years on the run

Edgardo Greco, 63, is suspected of belonging to the notorious ‘Ndrangheta, a powerful mafia organisation in Calabria, southern Italy.

He is wanted in Italy to serve a life sentence for the murders of Stefano and Giuseppe Bartolomeo, and accused of the attempted murder of Emiliano Mosciaro “as part of a mafia war between the Pino Sena and Perna Pranno gangs that marked the early 1990s”, Interpol said.

The Bartolomeo brothers were beaten to death with iron bars in a fish warehouse, Italian police said.

Greco’s arrest in central France came with help for Italy and France from the “Cooperation against ‘Ndrangheta Project” (I-CAN) run by Interpol, which facilitates police cooperation between its 195 member states.

READ ALSO: Italian police seize €250 million and arrest 56 in latest mafia blitz

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi, quoted in Interpol’s statement, said the arrests demonstrated his country’s commitment to “fighting all forms of organised crime and locating dangerous fugitives”.

The ‘Ndrangheta is considered Italy’s most extensive and powerful mafia group, Interpol said, operating worldwide and with strong ties to the trade in cocaine bound for Europe from South America

I-CAN’s job is help raise awareness of ‘Ndrangheta and their modus operandi, sharing police information to dismantle their networks and operations, the agency said.

The arrest of Greco, who worked in the evenings in a pizza restaurant under an assumed named according to Italian media, came a week after Italian police said it had dismantled a ‘Ndrangheta mafia ring dominating a large area of southern Calabria and seized assets exceeding 250 million euros.

Fifty-six people, many already in prison, were put under criminal investigation for a series of crimes including mafia-related conspiracy, extortion, kidnapping, bribery and possession of weapons, police and prosecutors said.

The arrest of Greco comes just over two weeks after Italian police arrested one of the most notorious bosses of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra mafia, Matteo Messina Denaro, who had been on the run for 30 years.

The 60-year-old was arrested after visiting a health clinic where he was being treated in the Sicilian capital Palermo

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