Italian customs police on Monday Cracked a Nigerian organized crime syndicate that forced dozens of young women into prostitution and begging on the streets of Italy.

The group according to the security operatives, are also responsible for the smuggling of millions of euros in ill-gained revenues to Nigeria, with cash hidden in suitcase handles or pasta packages.

The police said raids in cities in northern and southern Italy as well as on the island of Sardinia yielded 40 arrests.

The Suspected Criminal gangs are being held for investigation of alleged money-laundering, facilitating illegal immigration, human trafficking, putting persons into slavery and exploiting prostitution.

Dozens of others are also under investigation.

Helping spark the investigation was the complaint of a Nigerian woman, brought illegally into Italy, that her fellow countrywomen were taking on debts as high as 50,000 euros, equivalent $56,000 dollars to arrive, only to be forced into prostitution for the syndicate.

While prostitution is legal in Italy, the exploitation of prostitutes is illegal.

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