Nigerian Drug Gangs Recruiting From Rome Asylum Homes

A migrant looks on inside the migrants center in Castelnuovo di Porto, a village at 15 kil

Nigerian drug trafficking gangs have expanded in Rome after recruiting migrants from asylum centres as drug couriers.

An investigation launched by Italian authorities and the county’s anti-mafia directorate has revealed the operations of both the Nigerian and Albanian drugs networks in Rome. The investigations also recently led to the arrest of 55 people, including 27 Albanians and 23 Nigerians.

According to a report from the newspaper Il Giornale, from April of 2018 to April of the following year, Nigerian and Albanian gang members had flooded the city with drugs, particularly marijuana, with investigators seizing €2.5 million ($2.9m) worth of narcotics during the period.

Investigators learned that the Nigerians used asylum reception centres as recruitment grounds for drug runners and that most couriers had political refugee status. The Nigerians largely operated in several neighbourhoods in the south of the city.

One of the drug gang’s bosses is even alleged to have lived at a migrant reception centre on the Via Della Riserva Nuova, where some of the couriers are said to have been recruited.

Residents had reported that the area around the reception centre was being used as a drug trafficking hub as early as last summer, telling Il Giornale that the migrants occupied a local park where drugs were sold.

The drugs sold by the Nigerians originally came from the city of Vlorë in Albania and came vacuum packed in large quantities. The drugs would then be sold in Italy and other parts of Europe, where the gang had connections.

The growth of Nigerian migrant gangs has been a major issue in other areas of Italy for the last several years.

In the former seaside resort town of Castel Volturno north of Naples, the town was said to have been largely taken over by Nigerian migrant gangs trafficking drugs and running prostitution rings.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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