Russia’s mobsters have been at it again — infiltrating the economy and government institutions in the West through corruption, washing away all obstacles with a sea of dirty money. Only this time they’ve been caught. The Mob Reporter here with news of a seven-year corruption and money laundering probe rooting out a high-level criminal operation of Russian-based mobsters targeting Spain. And it isn’t just old-school gangsters getting nailed: lawyers, politicians, civil servants, businessmen and hackers are taking their share of the heat. Let me tell you about it.
Police call it a large, Russian-speaking, high-risk organized crime network. It’s sphere of operation was wide: across Europe, South America and the United States. The profits from their criminal activities around the globe was laundered through the network they built in Spain, authorities said. Here’s how they did it: The mobsters let their money do the talking. Using a philanthropic overture they caught the attention of officials and then penetrated the administration of public institutions.
The infiltration “enabled the network to carry out their business with impunity, overcome legal obstacles and receive a series of administrative favors including protection from police and judicial investigations.”.
Investigators also didn’t dance around who they were dealing with, directly saying that among those involved in the criminal network were vors.
The vory v zakone is the Russian name for these mobsters. It translates as “Thieves in Law”; they are the criminal authorities of the Russian underworld and in the countries of the former Soviet Union. The vors share similarities in underworld stature with the made members of the Mafia in Italy, although they have a distinct history and culture.
The vors’ operational capacity in Spain was boosted through the classic force multipliers: Lawyers, civil servants, politicians, businesspeople.
The vors eyes the tourism and real estate sectors along Spain’s Alicante coast, and one of Europe’s tourist hotspots — the Spanish island of Ibiza in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s renowned for its nightlife, club scene and music festivals. They were trying to buy one of the prime nightclubs on the island and control a portion of the nightlife, hospitality, leisure, catering and real estate sectors, which are cash heavy industries.
Spain’s federal police agency, Policiá Nacional, in cooperation with Europol, the joint European police agency, worked the investigation as a high-priority case. It is the largest probe of Eastern European crime gangs in more than a decade in Spain.
The raids were announced on Dec. 14, 2020. In numbers, here is how it tallied: 23 arrests; 18 addresses raided, including at least one law office; 10 guns seized, including a sniper rifle with a silencer, and what officers called “combat rifles”; 23 properties seized; 16 high-end vehicles, diamonds, and several cryptocurrency wallets also seized, along with a paltry €300,000 and $35,000 cash; and bank accounts and real estate worth millions of euros was blocked.
Russia - MR.