Black Axe, a criminal network stemming from Nigeria and known for its killings, kidnappings, drug trafficking and penchant for black magic, has already gained a foothold in a number of Swedish cities. In an alarming development, the mobsters have been trying to ensnare the city of Uppsala as well, the Swedish police reported.
“Alas, we see signs of that”, Uppsala police spokesman Jale Poljarevius told national broadcaster SVT.
So far, Black Axe has mostly dealt with drug trafficking and running a prostitution racket, luring women into crime with the help of black magic. According to SVT, at least 17,000 young Nigerian women have been lured to Europe in recent years, many with criminal intent.
“They are holding women hostage and are tricking them through the use of voodoo into believing that it will end up badly for them if they quit”, Poljarevius explained, adding that selling cocaine and heroin was indeed part of Black Axe's activities.
According to the local police, the rise of the Nigerian mafia may trigger a wave of gangland violence, as existing gangs will be vying for power in an already congested environment. Poljarevius described the market as “quite saturated”, forecasting “violence rather than cooperation”.
Previously, reports of Black Axe entrenching themselves in the country's major cities, including the capital Stockholm, surfaced. Earlier in October, no fewer than 15 mobsters were charged with drug offences in what the Customs Administration labelled “one the largest investigations ever”.
In Gothenburg, Sweden's second-largest city, the organisation is estimated to have sold dozens of kilograms of cocaine and heroin worth SEK 112 million (about $11.5 million), Expressen reported.
In September, a man of Nigerian origin was arrested at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport while trying to smuggle 70 capsules of heroin and cocaine in his body. He subsequently admitted that he had been forced to act as a drug courier by Black Axe, because they killed his father and threatened to also kill his mother back home in Nigeria. Prosecutor Karolina Lindekrantz confirmed that killing people was indeed part of Black Axe's activities.
The gang's reported modus operandi is to lure migrants from West Africa with promises of jobs, to later drag them into criminal activities. In addition to kidnappings and scare tactics, the criminals are also said to rely on juju, a Nigerian brand of voodoo, terrifying victims into submission.
However, Swedish media outlets describe it as an advanced organisation that relies heavily on contemporary technology and largely manages to stay just below the police radar.
“I would say it is one of the world’s most effective crime syndicates", Stockholm police spokesman Lennart Karlsson told Swedish Radio, admitting that they “unfortunately for us, probably have a pretty bright future”.
Stemming from the 1980s Nigeria, Black Axe gradually expanded into nearby nations. However, it didn't establish itself in Europe until the migrant crisis of 2015. It first used Sicily as a springboard, notoriously competing with the infamous local mafia Cosa Nostra.