Animal rights activists are up in arms over attempts to barbecue a dog at an immigrant welcome center in southern Italy, with migrants insisting the practice is normal where they come from.
Members of the Carabinieri, an Italian military police force, intervened immediately after receiving a call from an employee of the center who had witnessed the scene of a 29-year-old Nigerian man intent on roasting a dog at the center in Vibo Valentia, in the Italian region of Calabria.
The man had succeeded in skinning and chopping up the canine and was in the process of grilling it for himself and some friends when he was stopped by law enforcement officers. The young woman who called the police also volunteers at a pro-animal organization in the area.
Explaining to police that such a practice is “normal where we come from,” the migrant insisted that he didn’t kill the dog but had found it dead by the side of the road and had decided to grill it. He also pleaded ignorance of Italian laws forbidding eating cats and dogs.
Police transferred the migrant to a different welcome center, located in the former Hotel Miragolfo in the nearby town of Nicotera.
Among countries of origin, Nigeria accounts for the largest single group of migrants entering Italy at present, with nearly twice as many (15.7 percent) Nigerians entering Italy during 2017 as those from Guinea, the second largest immigrant group by country of provenance (8.4 percent).
This African nation has been the focus of much local media attention in recent weeks, with reports of growth of a “ruthless” Nigerian mafia on Italian soil, and the brutal murder and dismemberment of an 18-year-old Italian girl, Pamela Mastropietro, allegedly at the hands of three Nigerian migrants.
Mastropietro’s dismembered corpse was discovered earlier this month in two suitcases outside the central Italian town of Macerata, but was missing her neck, heart and genitals. The body had also been deboned and washed in bleach.
A prominent Italian criminologist said that the modus operandi in this case matched methods typically adopted by the Nigerian mafia.
“What we have seen in the case of Pamela are the same methods the Nigerian mafia systematically employs in Nigeria and elsewhere,” Meluzzi said. “It is a routine to cut victims into pieces and, in some cases, to eat parts of their bodies.”
Troubling as well have been reports of startling percentages of female Nigerian migrants into Italy who wind up as prostitutes, whether by choice or coercion, and become virtual slaves of the Nigerian mafia.
Currently, some 80 percent of Nigerian girls and women migrating to Italy end up in prostitution, a form of sexual slavery from which the girls and women have no recourse. Roughly half of the prostitutes currently working in Italy are Nigerians.
Nigerian traffickers have exploited Europe’s migrant crisis to traffic girls across the Mediterranean to Italy to force into prostitution. From 2014-2016, more than 12,000 Nigerian girls and young women arrived in Italy, and of these, some 9,400 wound up as sex workers.