Mark Galeotti, a Russian crime specialist at the Institute of International Relations Prague in the Czech Republic, said the case showed how Russian and other Eurasian crime groups had sought to move into new and often ingenious areas of illegal activity, like trying to beat casino machines through hacking.
“What surprises me actually is they were still involved in the traditional types of crime,” Mr. Galeotti said in a telephone interview after being told about the charges.
Most of those charged were accused of being part of a nationwide racketeering enterprise led by Razhden Shulaya of Edgewater, N.J., who faces racketeering conspiracy and other counts.
Mr. Shulaya, 40, was described in the indictment as a “vor v zakonei” or “vor,” which it said were Russian phrases that translate roughly as “thief-in-law” and refer to “an order of elite criminals from the former Soviet Union” who, among other things, receive tribute from other criminals.
“As a vor,” the indictment said, “Shulaya had substantial influence in the criminal underworld and offered assistance to and protection of the members and associates” of the enterprise.
Joon H. Kim, the acting United States attorney in Manhattan, said the case was one of the first federal racketeering charges ever brought against a Russian vor. Mr. Kim announced the unsealing of the charges with William F. Sweeney Jr., the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York office; James P. O’Neill, the New York police commissioner; and Leon Hayward, acting head of Customs and Border Protection’s New York office.
The authorities unsealed a total of three indictments and one criminal complaint. A lawyer for Mr. Shulaya could not immediately be reached for comment.
The documents showed that investigators relied on cooperating informers. One, described as CS-1, had been arrested in a murder-for-hire plot involving Russian organized crime and had served about six years in prison, the complaint said. Since being released, the complaint noted, the informer has worked for the F.B.I. as a paid source.
The authorities offered few details about the slot-machine scheme. In January, they said, Mr. Shulaya was overheard in a phone call discussing the testing of devices that would predict slot-machine behavior; in another call, he was told about the reconnaissance of a casino that featured a particular model of slot machine that would be susceptible to the device.
In April, the device was used in a casino near Philadelphia, netting the group more than $1,000, one of the indictments said.
“Using computers is second nature to many of these groups,” said Mr. Galeotti, the expert in Russian crime. He added that when people hear about Russian organized crime, they often have an image of a stereotypical Russian thug.
“Yes, there are tattooed thugs around,” he noted. “But actually the kind of Russian gangster one sees in America is more likely to be a fraudster, a hacker or semi-criminal businessman.”
Russian Gang Hacked Slot Machines and Plotted Over Stolen Sweets, US Says
New York Times
There were the usual accouterments of an organized crime prosecution: an illegal poker house and cases of stolen cigarettes, the authorities said. … Trial of Vincent Asaro Highlights Loss ofMafia’s Code of Silence NOV. … Mark Galeotti, a Russian …
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DutchNews.nl–May 13, 2017
Opinion–New York Times–Mar 19, 2017
The FBI and NYPD Joint Organized Crime Task Force have arrested ten men in New York City today on charges of running a racketeering conspiracy as part of an organized crime effort. What’s notable is that these men and their crime family have alleged ties to the Russian mafia and to Donald Trump – raising the question of whether this move was made as part of the FBI’s ongoing investigation into Trump and Russia.
The ten men arrested today are associates of the Bonanno organized crime family (source: NBC New York). But a bit of digging by the Democratic Coalition Against Trump has revealed that a lawsuit alleges that same crime family is partnered with Russian businessman Felix Sater (link). Sater has a long history of financial ties to both Donald Trump and the Russian mafia, and in fact has done prison time for his Russian mafia ties (source: Esquire). So it’s not difficult to draw a straight line from today’s arrests to Trump and Russia. But what is the FBI suddenly up to?
If today’s ten FBI-NYPD arrests are indeed related to the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation, as the connections suggest, it may be an instance of rounding up the lower level mafia associates in order to see which of them is willing to cut a deal by selling out their bosses. This could also be a sign that the FBI is further along in its Trump-Russia investigation than had been believed, having completed its phase of gathering information externally, in favor of a phase of actively prompting little fish to flip on bigger fish, presumably leading all the way up to Trump and his direct associates. Contribute to Palmer Report
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Local Source–Get Surrey–Jun 5, 2017
While some gangs pull sophisticated hacking heists to steal Jeeps, and others focus on robbing high-profile graves, some, apparently, deal in the lucrative underground market of chocolate trafficking, according to NBC New York.
On Wednesday, the FBI arrested members of a Russian organized crime syndicate on a range of serious charges. Along with racketeering, contract killing, extortion, and credit card fraud, some members of the Shulaya Enterprise were allegedly trafficking 10,000 pounds of stolen chocolate, according to a Department of Justice press release.
Sadly, there still aren’t too many details available regarding why a crime syndicate might have an interest in stealing and selling chocolate, or how one manages to procure such a vast quantity of the stuff. But according to the federal complaint, the gang had a wide range of maniacal schemes in the works—including robbing people by seducing them and drugging them with chloroform, and running an illegal poker business.
The feds believe that 33 members of the gang—which reportedly has ties to Ukraine, Georgia, and Russia—were involved in running their “dizzying array of criminal schemes” in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Nevada. While 23 members were taken into federal custody Wednesday—including suspected ringleaders Razhden Shulaya and Zurab Dzhanashvili—many are still reportedly on the loose.
The suspected chocolate culprits are slated to see their first day in federal court later on Wednesday, at which point more details about their case should surface. Hopefully, we can all get a little more insight on what the hell anyone would do with five tons of stolen chocolate, besides melt it into a giant river and swim in it like Augustus Gloop.
The United States federal government announced today that it has arrested dozens of members of a Russian crime syndicate for a long list of alleged crimes. This raises the inevitable question of whether these arrests relate to the FBI’s ongoing and broadening investigation into Donald Trump’s Russian connections and financial dealings. There’s one clue in the press release that may provide insight.
The various charges against these alleged Russian mobsters include everything but the kitchen sink: “murder-for-hire conspiracy, a plot to rob victims by seducing and drugging them with chloroform, the theft of cargo shipments containing over 10,000 pounds of chocolate, and a fraud on casino slot machines using electronic hacking devices,” according to the Justice Department website (link). Stealing ten thousand pounds of chocolate might be one of the strangest mafia crimes of all time. But the details of the casino related crimes are what may or may not give away what’s really going on here.
Here’s the detail stands out: the alleged crimes include “efforts to defraud casinos in Atlantic City and Philadelphia by using electronic devices and computer servers to predict and exploit the behavior of electronic slot machines.” Donald Trump had two casinos in Atlantic City, including the Taj Mahal. He retained an ownership stake in it all the way up through 2015 before he he bailed out, and then it ultimately went out of business altogether.
As Palmer Report has previously reported (link), the U.S. Treasury Department busted the Trump Taj Mahal for participating in money laundering in early 2016, in the form of a multimillion dollar fine. Donald Trump still owned a stake in the Taj Mahal at the time. The Senate Intelligence Committee has recently taken an interest in that money laundering bust, and has asked the Treasury Department for additional details.
So maybe the Feds have moved in on these Russian mobsters because they’re the same ones who who were laundering money through Trump’s Atlantic City casino, and now the Feds want to get them to flip against Donald Trump himself. Or maybe this is simply a standard issue takedown of a crime syndicate and it has nothing to do with the ongoing Trump-Russia investigation at all. We’ll find out eventually.
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Deadly Russian Gangsters Smuggled Insane Amount of Chocolate … VICE-1 hour ago On Wednesday, the FBI arrested members of a Russian organized crime syndicate on a range of serious charges. Along with racketeering …
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