Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Russian Mafia Bosses: Rocket Scuko

Rocket scuko
Rocket Scuko (left) and Pheonix Raspizdyai (right)

Andrei Kostikin aka Rocket Scuko was born in Bishkek, Kyrgystan. In Bishkek Rocket Scuko started managing a weapon shop during the day and selling drugs at night, he also joined the Podonkonvo Organized Crime group. Rocket Scuko very much loved women and sex, therefore he has opened a striptease club named "Rocket Girls", Scuko Inc. At present he is at large.

Friday, March 16, 2007


Russian Mafia Bosses

Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov was born in 1949 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Tokhtakhounov's first set back came when at a young age he lost his father and, not long after his fathers death, Tokhtakhounov's mother died as well leaving Tokhtakhounov alone at the age of 13 to take care of his younger brother. Growing up as a kid one of the few places Tokhtakhounov felt happy was on the football field (soccer). Tokhtakhounov loved football and played it with a passion eventually he played in the first team of the Uzbek team Pakhtakor. As a football player Tokhtakhounov earned the nickname "Taiwanchik," which means little Taiwanese. But how much fun playing football was it wasn't paying the bills and Tokhtakhounov needed money to take care of his younger brother. And so Tokhtakhounov began playing cards for money and won big with it. When he injured his kneee during football practise Tokhtakhounov's football career was over and he decided to test his 'luck' at cards and other operations in the big city: Moscow.

In Moscow Tokhtakhounov started managing a football team during the day and playing cards at night he also joined the Izmaylovo Organized Crime group. For the communistic times Tokhtakhounov made good money playing cards. During the vacation Tokhtakhounov went to the resort town of Sochi where he scammed tourists out of their card money. Things went good for Tokhtakhounov he was earning a nice living with his criminal activities and had given up his manager job at the football club and was now a criminal full time. In 1972 this proved to be a mistake. Tokhtakhounov was arrested for nothing more than being without a job. In communist Russia those arrests were frequent and in 1980 Tokhtakhounov was arrested again on similar charges. During his years with the Izmaylovo Organization Tokhtakhounov mingled with Russian celebreties and athletes. He met all these people while working for the Association XXI Century company, a company owned by the powerful mobster Otari Kvantrishvily. His job in this company was to take care of the debtors who refused to pay. In 1989 Tokhtakhounov decided to leave Russia and planned on setting up business in East Germany. After having spent 3 years in East Germany Tokhtakhounov found the heat attention from German authorities became too much. People around Tokhtakhounov were getting killed and police questioned him on why that was, Tokhtakhounov didn't know but fearing for his own life left Germany in 1993.

While in France Tokhtakhounov continued his criminal ways and in 1994 was involved, according to French authorities, in a money laundering case involving $70 million dolllars. French police also questioned him in connection with the murder of a Russian man because they believed he had ties to the man behind the murder. After all the questioning Tokhtakhounov had had enough and decided to move again this time to Israel. He didn't stay long though, after a while he moved back to France. Back in France Tokhtakhounov once again mingled with celebrities and athletes and other higher social class. And it paid off. In 1999 Tokhtakhounov was made a knight in the Order of St. Constatine. The ceremony was attended by several reputed Russian Organized Crime figures.

But in 2000 Tokhtakhounov moved again this time to Italy. This time it seemed like a permanent move, he bought houses in Forte dei Marmi, Rome and Milan. In Italy Tokhtakhounov kept a low profile, or so it seemed. His friends say he was very busy trying to get a Russian passport but that was it they say. On July 31 2002 however the truth of what Tokhtakhounov was doing in Italy became clear: He had fixed the Olympic Ice Skating games. On that day, June 31, 2002, Tokhtakhounov was arrested on charges that he fixed the pairs and ice dancing figure skating competitions at the Salt Lake City Olympics. According to the F.B.I. Tokhtakhounov fixed the competition for French couple Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat and made them win by pressuring a Russian juror to vote for them in turn he pressured a French juror to vote for the Russian pair Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze. Tokhtakhounov did this according to the F.B.I. to obtain a French visum. True or not Tokhtakhounov was arrested in Italy and kept there the U.S. has requested that the Italian authorities hand him over but so far it seems Tokhtakhounov will stay put in an Italian prison. If the Ice Skating fix turns out to be true it is yet another example of how far the power of the Russian Mafia reaches.

Russian Mafia Bosses: VYACHESLAV ''Yaponchik" IVANKOV

Russian mafia bosses

Vyacheslav Ivankov, nicknamed Yaponchik ("Little Japanese"), was, from shortly after his arrival in the United States in 1992 until his arrest by the FBI in 1995, a mysterious and even mythical figure. The speculations tossed around about him created an image of a man who was called "the father of extortion" and the Soviet Union's "most influential vor." He was the "leading crime boss of the Russian Far East" and was reported in the largest Russian language newspaper in New York City to be the "Red godfather" sent to New York by his fellow vory to organize and control Russian criminal activities there. U.S. authorities, especially the Federal Bureau of Investigation, certainly seemed to believe and acted as if Ivankov were a major crime boss.

Who is this man Ivankov, also known as Yaponchik? What was he doing here? And was he really the Russian crime boss? The Ivankov/Yaponchik case may be the quintessential illustration of how and why a mafia is created.

Yaponchik was allegedly born in the Soviet Republic of Georgia and grew up in Moscow. He was a champion amateur wrestler in his youth who first went to jail after a bar fight in which (according to his Moscow lawyer) he was defending the honor of a woman. After his release, he began to climb up the Soviet crime ladder--like so many others--by dealing stolen goods on the black market. According to Russian law enforcement authorities. Ivankov formed a criminal organization (called Solntsevskaya) in approximately 1980. Among its activities, this group used false police documents to search the homes of wealthy individuals and steal money and other valuables. In 1982 Yaponchik was caught and convicted for robbery, possession of firearms, forgery, and drug trafficking. He was sentenced to fourteen years in prison and during his imprisonment (he served ten years) was supposedly initiated as a vor v zakone.

According to Ivankov himself, his prison activities during this period antagonized the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, which subsequently conspired with the FBI against him. In a 1995 interview with a Moscow correspondent, Ivankov said that the Ministry could not forgive his efforts to reform the Soviet prison system while he was locked up in Siberia--efforts that were in support of his lifelong resistance to communism. The FBI, he says, was taken in by the criminal authorities who run the criminal state that was Soviet Russia. That Vyacheslav Ivankov might not be just any ordinary Russian criminal could be surmised form his supposed acquaintance with Yuri Churbanov, the Brezhnev son-in-law who was involved in the Uzbek cotton scandal. His early release from prison in 1991 reportedly resulted from the intervention of a powerful politician and the bribery of a judge on the Russian Supreme Court.

Ivankov came to the United States in March 1992 with a regular business visa indicating he would be working in the movie industry. How was a man with a felony conviction, ten years in prison, and a reputation as one of the most powerful criminals in Russia able to readily receive a visa to come to the United States? U.S. Immigration and Naturalization officials told us that immigration officials in Moscow were overwhelmed and had neither the time nor resources to investigate the criminal backgrounds of all visa applicants. U.S. officials had to depend on both inept and corrupt Russian authorities for this background information. The real reason for Ivankov's being here is open to some dispute. The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs advised the FBI in January 1993 that Ivankov had come to the United States to "manage and control ROC [Russian Organized Crime] activities in this country." Handelman says, however, that his American police sources initially denied that they had received any such warning. Nonetheless, this advice was ultimately taken to heart by the FBI. Alexander Grant, news editor for "Noovoye Russkoye Slovo," told us in 1994 that Ivankov was indeed the highest-ranking Russian criminal in the United States but that he was "not criminally active here." Grant said that Ivankov had to get out of Russia because "it became too dangerous for him there--dangerous because of the new criminal entrepreneurs who don't respect the likes of Yaponchik." Whatever his original reason for coming, Yaponchik was indeed criminally active after he arrived in the United States, but, as with so much else about him, the scope of his criminal activity is open to controversy. One view is that "Ivankov's New York branch of the Solntsevskaya gang had about 100 members and was recognized on the street as the premier Russian crime group in Brooklyn" and, further, that Ivankov's was the strongest of the Russian organized crime groups in this country. Similarly relying on FBI sources, Sterling concluded that "[m]uch as Lucky Luciano did with the American mafia sixty-odd years ago, Ivankov is turning an assortment of unruly and loosely articulated Russian gangs on American soil into a modern, nationwide crime corporation." If there is any evidence to support any such assessment, however, it is not apparent.

When he was arrested by the FBI in June 1995, Ivankov was charged with supervising the extortion of several million dollars form an investment advisory firm run by two Russian businessmen.
He and three co-defendants were convicted of this extortion in July 1996. On the face of it, there was nothing particularly sophisticated about the crime. In fact, one is led to wonder why, if Ivankov was indeed the boss of a large criminal organization and the most powerful Russian mobster in the United States, he was directly involved in arranging and negotiation with the extortion victims. Organized crime bosses are usually insulated from this sort of direct involvement. Further, it was alleged in the FBI's arrest complaint that the murder in Moscow of the father of one of the victims was part of the threat used to further the extortion. Yet in a telephone conversation dealing with this murder--a conversation that was a part of the arrest complaint--Ivankov, who was supposedly masterminding the scheme, seems ignorant of the murder. Finally, if Ivankov were the new Lucky Luciano, where were the other charges that one might expect could have been derived from his over two years of high-level criminal activity before the particular extortion began in November 1994?

Ivankov is clearly a serious criminal. Information from Russian authorities, his prison experience, and even his tattoos all suggest that he is a vor. He probably is the toughest Russian criminal in the United States, but it is doubtful that he is or was the head of a major criminal organization or a mafia boss. There is no evidence that he attempted to gain monopoly control over any criminal activities or that he systematically used violence or corruption. On the basis of this single crime, it is difficult to assess the economic, physical, psychological, and societal harm caused by his offenses. The description of the crime itself, however, suggests that it was a rather blundering effort. Finally, returning to one of our mafia criteria of organizational capacity for harm, Ivankov was said to have had only a loosely affiliated group of some ten people and not an extensive and sophisticated criminal organization.

In the meantime, Ivankov has been sentenced to U.S. federal prison for nine years and seven months. In a recent interview from prison, Ivankov accuses the FBI of feeding the myth of a Russian Mafia to prove the usefulness of their Russian section. They are, he says, "only tilting with windmills." According to Ivankov, there is no myth about organized crime in Russia because everyone knows that "Russia is one uninterrupted criminal swamp." The criminals are in the Kremlin and the Duma (the legislature), and anyone who thinks that someone like him is the head of all these "bandits" is delirious.

On July 13, 2004 Ivankov was released from an American prison and flown to Russia. When he arrived in Russia he was taken to a custody cell to await a trial in which he is charged with the 1992 murder of two Turkish nationals.

On July 18, 2005, a year after coming home to Russia, Ivankov was acquitted of murdering the two Turkish nationals. "What happened today is what should have happened," Ivankov's lawyer, Yury Rakitin, said by telephone following the acquittal Monday evening. "He is absolutely not guilty, and all 12 jurors agreed that he was in no way involved." After the verdict, Ivankov turned to the jury and said, "Thank you very much," Rakitin said.

There is discussion whether or not Ivankov was really as powerful as authorities claimed. Ivankov, presuming Monday's acquittal stands, presents little threat as a free man, said Mark Galeotti, director of the Organized Russian & Eurasian Crime Research Unit at Britain's Keele University. After nine years in a U.S. prison, Ivankov's criminal contacts in Russia are probably "old, stale and dead. He would likely be seen in the criminal world as more of a nostalgic figure," he said. "He has little to offer the new generation of criminals," Galeotti said. "If he does go back to committing crimes, he'll probably get caught, and the people who are looking after him will probably disavow him."

But Larisa Kislinskaya, a leading crime journalist with the tabloid Sovershenno Sekretno, said Ivankov would remain a relevant figure, if only because of his authority as a thief-in-law with the criminal leaders who preside over life behind bars. "Prison life is still run by the thieves' law," Kislinskaya said. "They may not have to respect him while they are free, but if they ever land in prison, they had better respect him. As long as there is a prison system, Ivankov will be an authority."


Russian Mafia Bosses

Semion Mogilevich was born on June 30, 1946 in Kiev, Ukraine. Not much is known about his early years and he doesn't become known to the police untill the 1970s. In the early '70s Mogilevich was part of the Lyubertskaya group in Moscow. He was a smalltime crook, trying to stay ahead of the communist government he was getting by with petty theft and fraud. During this career of crime he did 3 years in prison for selling currencies on the black market and another term of 4 years in prison for currency dealing offences. This was all petty crime and hardly made Mogilevich any money. His first big score came in the 1980s when scores of Russian jews emmigrated to Israel and the U.S.. He made deals with them that he would buy their possessions and would sell them on the markets and that he would send them some nice money from those deals. In reality he didn't send anything and made loads of money off of the Jews who were rapidly trying to leave. By the 1990s Mogilevich had made several millions, he had invested his Jew rip off money and made money through weapons smuggling, prostitution, gambling, drugs and black market items. The 1990s were a weird time, the Soviet Union was collapsing and the Organized Crime groups were getting more powerful than ever before. Wars errupted over the Soviet treasure and Mogilevich, along with his top employees, decided to leave Moscow for Israel.

In Israel Mogilevich became an Israeli citizen and layed relatively low. He made contacts with other Russian and Israeli Organized Crime groups, kept running his foreign businesses and expanded his criminal empire. Mogilevich invested all of his illegal money in companies. He bought nightclubs, precious stones factories, art, liquor factories and more, he used some of these companies as fronts and used them to expand his illegal empire. One thing Mogilevich also bought was a weapon factory. According to himself he "bought that factory in Hungary in 1992 and it still hasn't sold one single armamant". The factory mentioned sells anti aircraft guns/missiles and mortyrs. In 1991 he married his Hungarian girlfriend Katalin Papp, this marriage allowed him to move to Hungary and live there. Once he arrived in Budapest, Hungary he set up his criminal organization. He bough nightclubs and restaurants. According to F.B.I. records he built up an organization in Budapest of 250 members formed after the Cosa Nostra Family model.

Budapest looked like the paradise Mogilevich was waiting for, but eventhough he had most of the politicians and cops in his pocket or scared beyond their belief the Hungarian government still tried to show Mogilevich and his criminal friends that they weren't welcome. On May 31, 1995 a restaurant called "U Holubu" that was owned by a company owned by Mogilevich was raided by police. The Hungarian criminal intelligence said that at this restaurant 2 Russian speaking criminal organizations were meeting, one from Moscow and one from the Ukraine. All men present were arrested and later released. Mogilevich didn't attend the meeting. When asked about the meeting Mogilevich said: "Yes, on May the 31st 1995, my comrade Victor Averin had his 38th birthday. And he got together his friends, who had agreed this with him, and their wives and children, to celebrate his birthday in the Czech Republic at the U Holubu restaurant." When asked if he was planning on attending this 'party' Mogilevich said yes, on the question why he had not and if he had been tipped off he answered that his plane was "running more than 45 minutes late. I was meant to be at the restaurant for 9.30pm, that's what we'd agreed over the phone. At 10.45pm I had only just landed. By the time I arrived at 'U Holubu', the raid was already in full swing. I went to the neighbouring hotel and sat in the bar there until about five or six in the morning. Then I got in a taxi and went to Budapest." This raid was only a small trouble for Mogilevich and his organization. It was a desperate police action by a government that knows it needs to do something to maintain it's authority and power over criminals that have so much more of that power and authority.

Mogilevich's criminal empire currently operates in Europe (including Italy, Chech Republic, Switzerland and Russia) the United States, the Ukraine, Israel and the United Kingdom. And also has dealings/contacts with Organizations in South America, Pakistan and Japan. Mogilevich is considered one of the smartest and most powerful gangsters in the world and so far no one has been able to stop him. In 2000 it became known that the F.B.I. had set up a joint task force with the Hungarian Police to combat Organized Crime in the region and Eastern Europe in general, it will be interesting to see how Mogilevich will deal with these feds who have got the U.S. Italian Mafia in a tight deathgrip. Chances are however that the F.B.I. has arrived too late it looks like Mogilevich has become too powerful, even if he himself keeps insisting that he only sells grain and wheat.

Russian Mafia Bosses: LUDWIG 'TARZAN' FAINBERG

Russian Mafia Bosses

Ludwig 'Tarzan' Fainberg (on the picture, Tarzan is the man on the right, with the long full hair.) was the Russian Mafia leader of South Florida. He started like every other Russian gangster with extortion and fraud and made it to the big time when he began shipping cocaine for the Colombian Drug Cartels. Tarzan wasn't a real tough gangster, he wasn't even really working with the backing of a major Family but he cornered the market just a bit faster than the rest and used his cocaine money well, supplying the Colombians with Russian helicopters and one time even trying to get them a nice Russian army submarine.....

Tarzan was born in Russia, Odessa, in 1958. At age 3 his family moved to Tsjernovich where he grew up. Here he sang in a national boys choir and trained as a boxer for the Russian army untill in 1972 at age 13 the family moved again, this time to their homeland (they were Russian Jews) Israel. In Israel Tarzan got his nickname when he jumped from a building to get some attention. Eventually he joined the Israeli Marines and tried to become a Navy Seal but didn't get through basic training. He then wanted to become an army officer but failed the examn.

In 1980 Tarzan moved to East Berlin where he joined up with some of his Russian friends and joined a crew which was involved in creditcard fraud and extortion. The crew was heade by the notorious Efim Laskin (a guy who sold weapons to the Red Brigade). From him Tarzan got thew assignment to shake down a Berliner banker. Tarzan and 2 others went to the bank and pushed the guy in the trunk of their car and threatened him with death if he wouldn't pay, the guy told them he couldn't get the money now but would have it at closing time, Tarzan and the others 2 men waited in the car. After a while Tarzan stepped out to take a walk and smoke a cigarette when all of a sudden 4 Mercedes Benzes pulled up beside the car (which now only held the 2 other guys). A bunch of other Russian gangsters stepped out of the car and gave the 2 men a hell of a beating, the banker was off limits just like so much else in Eastern Europe. Fearing for his life and wanting some more free workspace Tarzan decided to go to America.

Tarzan settled in Brighton Beach. It wasn't the paradise he had hoped for. According to him it was like the wild west and he carried a gun at all times. Pretty soon Tarzan had it made, not by doing any crimes but by marrying a Russian Mafia princess who's grandfather, ex husband and brother in law all were Russian gangsters and all went by the same nickname: psycho. Eventhough all these men were doing crime Tarzan didn't, he wasn't allowed to by his wife. She wanted him home and live off the money from her ex husband who was doing 7 years in a German prison for extortion. His wife bought him expensive suits, took him out to diner and watched soap operas with him.

He felt like a pussy and decided that her Family wasn't gonna do anything if he would also do some crime and so Tarzan joined another Russian gangster named Grecia Roizes, their families had close ties and they were born in the same place. Roizes had done a 3 year prison term in a Siberian prison because he had hit a man so hard the guys belly fell open through a recent operation scar. Now Roizes was the head of the most feared crew in Brighton Beach. He had furniture stores in New York, Italy and Russia that were fronts for a heroine ring used by the Russian Mafia, the Gambino Crime Family and the Genovese Crime Family. Tarzan started to work in one of these stores. One day an old lady was treated rude by one of the young thugs who worked their and Tarzan stepped in and offered the old woman free furniture. The next day a muscular Italian man walked into the store, he introduced himself as Frankie and he said that the old lady from the day before was his mother and that if Tarzan ever needed anything he should call him. Frankie said he owed him and Tarzan just had to call and Frankie would take care of it. And Tarzan did, Tarzan was impressed by the power the guy showed. Later in 1987 Tarzan read the newspaper and finally learned the full name of the guy who was now dead, Frank Santora a made member of the Colombo Crime Family.

In 1990 Tarzan moved to Florida. Florida attracted many Russians who either had money to spend or money to make. Ex KGB agents and other ex government officials settled and bought entire buildings with money taken when the Sovjet Union collapsed. In South Florida Tarzan opened his club 'Porky's', 'Porky's' became a meetingplace for Russian gangsters. Tarzan also was in the drugs business by this time, he had hennep fields in the everglades with an landingstrip for airplanes included. Soon the hennep wasn't big enough and Tarzan moved on to cocaine setting up links with Colombian drug cartels. Business was booming and the money came flowing in, Tarzan was top dog in Florida.

Tarzan's favorite thing was extortion but right there in 2nd place was humiliating women. Tarzan would beat them, sexually assault them and on one occasion he chased a stripper down the street, beat her up and made her eat stones.

It didn't matter, Tarzan made so much money he could get away with anything. His Russian connections also served him well. In 1993 Tarzan and his Colombian friends bought 6 M18 Russian Helicopters for $1 million dollars a piece. The Colombians would tear out the seats so they had more room for the drugs. Later they were beginning negotiations to buy a Russian army submarine. They bought the whole thing including crew, the submarine cost them $5,5 million dollars but before the deal went through.....he was arrested in Florida.

When business went good for Tarzan the F.B.I. noticed and they started looking into his past and his friends. They didn't really have anything on him and he wasn't a guy who was easy to follow traveling to Colombia and Russia a lot of the time. But then the feds got a break. Tarzans friend Roizes (who by this time went by the nickname 'The Cannibal' because he bit off someones nose when the guy insulted him) decided to flip and help the F.B.I. so he could get some time out of prison. Tarzan trusted Roizes to the fullest and told him much about his business, Tarzan liked to talk about his business it made him feel big and tough. It made him feel real tough untill the feds arrested him and on October 17 1999 Tarzan was convicted on RICO charges and deported back to Israel. But Tarzan had nothing bad to say about America: "I love America, it's so easy to steal something here, I think I'm going to Cuba now, a few of my Russian friends have hotels there I'm gonna get rich.....".

Russian Mafia Bosses: EVSEI "THE LITTLE DON" AGRON

Russian Mafia Bosses

Evsei Agron arrived in the U.S. on October 8th 1975. Arriving at Kennedy Airport he was one of the 5200 Sovjet jews who fled Russia and arrived in the U.S. in that year. Many of these jewish immigrants were tough Russian gangsters who were deported by the K.G.B.. When he arrived Agron had already served 7 years in a Russian workcamp for murder. When he got out of that prison he left as a full fledged member of the VOR brotherhood (sort of the Russian version of the Italian Made guy.) Before coming to the US. Argon already had some experience with the free western world. When he first left Russia in 1971 he went to Hamburg, Germany, there he ran a huge prostitution and gambling operation. When he arrived in Brighton Beach New York the people knew who he was. His reputation and him being part of the VOR brotherhood made Agron the most feared man in Brighton Beach and if there were any non believers he was gonna make them believe.

Agron didn't attract much attention at first. He had an office inside the El Caribe Country Club, from there he ran a ruthless organization which by 1980 made tens of thousands of dollars a week extorting the Russian community. Argons group extorted all Russians, from doctors and lawyers to store owners. One time Argon threatened to kill a Russians daughter on her weddingday if her father didn't pay $15.000 dollars immediately. Everybody paid, they knew what would happen if they didn't. If people didn't pay one of Argons guys would pay them a visit, and Argons guys had the same reputation as Argon himself. Two of Argons guys were the Nayfeld brothers, they were gangsters who came from Gomel, Russia. One brother, Benjamin, was a former member of the Russian Olympic weight lifting team. One time he killed a jewish guy in the presence of a crowd of law abiding Russians on a parking lot in Brighton Beach. He killed him by grabbing him with one hand lifting him up in the air and stabbing a knife through his heart with the other. The jewish guy was said to have insulted Benjamins girlfriend. After the murder at the trial 18 people testified that Benjamin was correct when he said he had been attacked by the jewish guy, and he walked out a free man. The other brother, Boris, was even more terrifying. Many Russians say that his eyes are completely white which is a sign that he has no soul and is posessed by the devil. These were just 2 of Agrons employees. And of these 3 the Russians still hated Agron the most. Agron was known to carry an electric stick, which was used to control cows, he used this stick to torture his victims. In contrast with most Russian VORs Agron found being feared more important than being respected. That would be a big mistake.

One night in 1980 Agron was walking through Coney Island when he got shot in the stomach. He was brought to the Coney Island hospital where he was guarded by a Genovese Family hired ex police man, the Genovese Crime Family guarded Agron because by the 1980s he was connected to them. When the cops came by and asked Agron if he knew who shot him he answered: "Yes", the cop then asked him who so they could get the guy. Agron answered: "No, I'll take care of it". Agron had loads of people who would like to see him dead, maybe someone he had ripped off in the past came back and tried to take him out, maybe someone in his organization wanted to step up, whatever the reason and whoever the guy behind the hit Agron resumed his life as if nothing had happened. His guys went back to the streets and ran rampant, truck hijacking became a favorite. Agron even bought himself a Russian newspaper company that provided the Brighton Beach Russians with the daily news, now they would read what he wanted them to read. By this time Agron was getting to the top of his game, his position among his group of ruthless Russian mobsters was unquestioned and had even expanded to 6 other major U.S. cities.

Agron was supported by 2 very powerful allies: The Genovese Family and Ronald Greenwald. In turn for their friendship the Italians got Russian manpower and expaned their operations to the Russian neighborhoods. The friendship with the Italians was very important for Agron, they had an enormous army of soldiers and the political connections to get them out of trouble. And eventhough they made lots of money together there was some friction between the Russian gangsters and the Italian mobsters. Most of the Italians lived modest and would try not to attract any attention, the Russians on the other hand love the attention and love to show their wealth. The Russians also don't have the same codes as the Italians, the Italians don't kill civilians not even the family members of mobsters who flipped, the Russians don't have these rules. The other friend that was of importance to Agrons expanding power was Ronald Greenwald. Greenwald was a jewish rabbi who was active in politics.

By the mid 1980s Agron was at the top of his game. He was feared and his power had seriously grown. He was doing bigger heists and making more money than ever before. But eventhough Agron was sort of a Godfather and he was working with professional crime groups the Russian groups in his neighborhood were still running rampant and out of control. Eventhough he was THE power in Brighton Beach, he still could get killed any moment because there was just no structure and control. In January 1984 while he was walking towards his front door, Agron was shot again. A hitman shot Agron 2 times, once in the face and once in the neck, both from close range. Agron was brought to the Coney Island hospital for a second time and survived. But his face would be damaged for the rest of his lifetime, it would look like he was smiling, a weird grin would stay on his face. Again he told the police that he would handle business himself. Agron had a few ideas about who might be behind the attack. The prime suspect was Boris Goldberg, an Israelian ex army officer from Russia. Goldberg ran a group of crminals along with David "Napoleon" Shuster, a crminal mastermind. The Goldberg group had enormous firepower stashed away safely, among the weapons were: guns with silencers, boxes of grenades and plastic explosives with detonators. The group sold cocaine to streetdealers. Goldberg was living together with the daughter of Bob Guccione, the guy behind Penthouse Magazine.

Because of their criminal interests it was inevitable that Agron and Goldberg would meet. One of the things that had caused friction between the two had been the extortion areas. They had had several meetings discussing which area would belong to who and every time things went wrong. After the botched hit on Agron in May 1984 Agron himself called Goldberg for a sitdown at Agrons Country Club. When Goldberg and a trusted soldier arrived they were welcomed by 50 silent, heavily armed Russians who sat at a round table. After a heated discussion in which Agron asked Goldberg if he was behind the hit things started getting out of hand. Agron didn't believe Goldberg and wanted to kill him, Goldberg then said: "If you want trouble.....I'm ready" Agron told one of his guys to look outside and see if Goldberg was bluffing, he wasn't. The parking lot in front of the Country Club was filled with armed men running around. Agron decided to leave it at that and the sitdown ended without bloodshed. Agron felt he had located his attacker and felt safe, the guy now knew not to try again. Agron forgot however that Goldberg wasn't the only enemy who wanted him dead.

On May 4, 1985, Agron was getting himself ready to go out on the town and relax in a nice Turkish bath in Manhattan. While he was relaxing Agron felt he could also discuss some business there. He got dressed and stepped outside his appartement. At 8.35 in the morning Agron pressed the elevator button. Out of nowhere a guy wearing sunglasses stepped out of the shadows and shot Agron from close range. Agron was shot in the head twice, he fell to the floor and at the age of 53 the Little Don died. Agron was probably the first Russian Godfather who set up an Organization in the U.S. he sure wouldn't be the last.

Russian Mafia Bosses: Sergei "Mikhas" Mikhailov

Russian Mafia

Sergei Mikhailov is one of the most powerful Russian mobsters. He is the boss of the Moscow based Solsnetskaya Organization the biggest and most powerful Russian Mafia Organization in Russia and probably the world, counting 5.000 members. Mikhailov's power reaches from Moscow to Miami to Geneve and the Middle East.

Sergei Anatoliavic Mikhailov was born in February 7, 1958 in Moscow, Russia. He grew up in an atmosphere where doing crime wasn't a crime. When the real criminals were the cops and politicians who murdered and tortured anyone who dared sing a different tune than the one approved by the communist government. Mikhailov, or Mikhas as he was called, didn't dive into a life of crime right away, first he worked as a waiter in several Moscow restaurants. But the pay wasn't as good as it could be and so pretty soon Mikhailov turned to crime full time. After some time without being caught his luck ran out. In 1984 at the age of 26 Mikhailov was charged with theft and fraud and sentenced to 6 months in prison, or as the Russians call their hell: Gulag. In the Gulag Mikhailov made good contacts with other Russian gangsters, including members of the VOR V ZAKONYE the Russian Mafia. The contacts made in prison would serve Mikhailov well.

When he got out of prison Mikhailov was a hardened criminal with contacts and a feared reputation. He was ready to begin his rise to power. Once out he began his own Organization, he named it after a neighborhood in Moscow: The Solsnetskaya Organization. In the beginning Mikhailov and his Organization main activities were: extortion, counterfeiting, drug trafficking and blackmail. When they were busy operating their rackets they pretty soon got into trouble with other Organizations working the same area. Several wars were fought and every time Mikhailov and his Solsnetskaya Organization came out on top. With the rival Organizations out of the way Mikhailov had total control and his Organization soon got into more rackets which included: arms dealing, infiltration of legitimate businesses and money laundering. Pretty soon the Solsnetskaya Organization was the biggest, most organized, most powerful and most feared criminal organization in Moscow and Russia. The money was rolling in and Mikhailov's power was enormous. When Mikhailov was arrested in 1989 on extortion charges he served 18 months in a Russian detention center awaiting his trial. When the trial finally the main witness refused to testifie, Mikhas walked that same day and continued to expand his criminal empire. And it would expand, the Soviet Union was about to fall and the Russian Mafia would get a whole new playing field......

When the Soviet Union collapsed and the Iron Curtain fell Russia was in total chaos. And where there's chaos there is an opportunity. Mikhailov and the other Russian Mafia bosses took advantage of the confusion in the Russian government and gained control of politicians and gevernment resources. With the government and the Iron Regime knock out there was nothing left to stop the Russian Mafia from totally taking over what the government left behind. Pretty soon Mikhailov's Organization owned banks, casino's, car dealerships, even the local airport (The Vnoekovo Airport). Operating from their new headquarters, a stylish building along the Leninsky Prospekt, Mikhailov's Organization controlled prostitution, gambling and weapons dealing. Mikhailov had taken control of Russia and now felt it was time to expand, the Western world was waiting and Mikhailov got himself and his Organization ready to go international.

Combat Brigades at work in MoscowIn 1994 while Mikhailov sent his soldiers all over the world to set up base he himself decided to go to Israel. Israel is a popular residence among Russian mobsters because it has a certain rule: Jews from all over the world may return to Israel and can not be refused even if they are on the run from the law. Because of this law many Jewish Russian mobsters decide to live in Israel, and many non Jewish Russians decide to get a fake passport, one of them: Sergei Mikhailov. While living in Israel Mikhailov watched his empire expand. His Organization was now active all over the world. He did business with other criminal organizations including the Colombian Cartels and Italian Mafia's both the US Italian as the Italian and Sicilian. Mikhailov's power was enormous, he had hit teams (called combat brigades) on standby in Miami. Whenever somebody had to be whacked Mikhailov flew his professional hitteam to the place where the hit took place, this could be in Russia or somewhere in Europe, the team took care of the hit and then flew back to Miami to wait for a new assignment. In the meantime they ran some U.S. based operations for the Organization in New York, Los Angeles and Houston.

In 1995 Mikhailov decided to move to Switzerland. In Switzerland Mikhailov started building up a web of bank accounts and companies with respectable directors. According to Swiss court documents Russian mobsters had laundered $60 billion dollars through Swiss banks. Mikhailov was doing well and showed it, he had put his kids in a good private school and bought a castle near Geneva, drove a beautiful Rolls Royce and he spent about $15.000 dollars a month on clothing. Life was good, until Swiss authorities decided to put some pressure on the Russian mobsters who were moving to Switzerland. In October 1996 Mikhailov was arrested and charged with being boss of a criminal organization using false documents and breaking a Swiss law restricting foreigners from buying property. In his mansion police found Israeli Military bugging equipment with this bugging equipment Mikhailov was able to listen in on secret Swiss police radio transmissions. The police also found loads of documents with names of bogus companies on it, used for laundering money from drugs and weapon sales. Detectives also found out that Mikhailov invested millions of his white money in the U.S.. He had bought nightclubs in New York and Los Angeles. Furthermore he bought a car dealership in Houston. Mikhailov denied he was a criminal and said he was just a "simple businessman". The Swiss authorities didn't buy it and locked him in a prison to await his faith. During the period between his lock up and the trial a lot of things would happen all over the world.

Mikhailov in the middle as he rides to courtMikhailov was considered a threat to society and so he was held in a Swiss prison awaiting his trial. While the Swiss prosecutors were gathering evidence Mikhailov made sure there wasn't much evidence left. Several people who had done business with Mikhailov were found dead. In Holland a father and his son were murdered, the father was stabbed in his eye and bled to death. Another man in Amsterdam was shot to death. Short there after the head of the Moscow police department fled to Switzerland. He claimed he was threatened by some of Mikhailov's men. Even the media was threatened, a Belgian journalist who wrote several columns about Mikhailov was warned by the local police that there was a contract on his life. Eventualy the police stopped the plot when they arrested a corrupt Belgian policeman who was about to take out the hit. Finally after 2 years the trial started, November 30, 1998 was set and 80 witnesses wearing bulletproof vests would come in and testifie. If Mikhailov was convicted he faced up to 7 years in prison.

The trial turned out to be a major succes for Mikhailov and a major blow to the Swiss authorities. Despite all the evidence found at Mikhailov's home and around 80 witnesses the Swiss prosecutors could not convict Mikhailov. The big obstacle was the Russian government. The Russians were asked to give certain documents that would show that Mikhailov was the head of a criminal empire, they refused. As a result Mikhailov was found not guilty on the most serious charges and found guilty on a minor charge for which he wasn't sentced since he already had served 2 years awaiting his trial. Mikhailov immediately thanked the jury, crying: "My heart is full of gratitude...I love you, I love you, I love you." Later, in a statement, he added: "You have shown to the whole world that democracy, law and justice exists in this country." And he wasn't finished after being set free in DEcember of 1998 Mikhailov went back to Russia and sued canton Geneva for his lost income in the 2 years he had spent in prison awaiting his trial, he won......In July, 1999 a Geneva court awarded Mikhailov the full amount he had claimed, although the cantonal authorities appealed against the decision.

Living in freedom Mikhailov leads his criminal empire that stretches from Asia to Canada back to Moscow and Western Europe. There is no place on this world which is safe for his Organization. He continues to make billions of dollars and expands his power as we speak. Sergei Mikhailov is one of the most dangerous Russian gangsters of the moment and what's even worse: He's living in freedom.