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09 June 2017, 09:38 | Felicia Parsons
US Charges 31 Members Of Russian Gang With 'Dizzying Array' Of Crimes
Almost three-dozen organized crime members were busted by federal authorities in Manhattan Wednesday for an odd mishmash of crimes - trafficking 5 tons of stolen chocolate as well as hordes of illegal cigarettes.
The indictment is apparently one of the first federal racketeering charges brought against a Russian 'vor, ' or mob boss-in this case, Shulaya.
The charges were announced by Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, as well as U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the New York City Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The Shulaya Enterprise, which has links to crime organizations in Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia, is accused of committing a number of crimes including a murder-for-hire conspiracy, a robbery scheme, and stealing cargo shipments containing the chocolate, according to USA Today.
FBI's Joint Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force arrested 27 members of the New York City-based Shulaya Enterprise accused of racketeering, wire and credit card fraud, narcotics trafficking, firearms and stolen property offenses, according to the criminal complaint that was unsealed yesterday.
Yesterday, Manhattan's Federal District Court unsealed the enormous indictment-31 people are named in it, the majority of whom hail from Russian Federation and Ukraine but now live in New York, New Jersey and Florida.
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Meanwhile, FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said in a statement: "The suspects in this case cast a wide net of criminal activity, aiming to make as much money as possible, all allegedly organized and run by a man who promised to protect them".
Members of the Shulaya Enterprise, as the crime syndicate is called, are also charged with selling untaxed cigarettes, scheming to bribe local law enforcement officials, and operating illegal poker businesses.
According to the New York Times, the court documents show that investigators collaborated with paid informers.
If convicted as charged, each defendant could face decades in prison for some of the charges.
The Justice Department said it had taken most of those charged into federal custody, but five were still at large.
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