Theft of 10000 pounds of chocolate helps bring down 33 Russian mobsters

Posted June 09, 2017

The US Attorney's office in New York's Southern District announced that it was charging the defendants with crimes including racketeering, fraud, narcotics, firearms, and stolen property offenses. The group is named after its alleged leader, 40-year-old Razhden Shulaya, of Edgewater, N.J., who was one of those arrested early Wednesday.

The suspects are alleged members of the Shulaya Enterprise, an association law enforcement describes as having links to criminal organizations in nations of the former Soviet Union, including Russia, Ukraine and Georgia.

The crims also ran underground poker games in NY seaside suburb Brighton Beach, with a side-order of extortion for those that ran up gambling debts.

Shulaya was a Russian "vor", one of the first ever charged with racketeering in the United States, prosecutors said, explaining that he belongs to an "order of elite criminals from the former Soviet Union who receive tribute from other criminals, offer protection, and use their recognized status as vor to adjudicate disputes among lower-level criminals".

"As a vor, Shulaya had substantial influence in the criminal underworld and offered assistance to and protection of the members and associates", the indictment said.

The group is accused of trafficking stolen goods - including large quantities of cigarettes and 10,000 pounds of chocolate confections, court papers say.

The case showed how Russian and other Eurasian crime groups have branched out into new areas of crime, according to Mark Galeotti, a Russian crime specialist at the Institute of International Relations Prague in the Czech Republic.

In addition, they're accused of scheming to rob, seduce and drug victims with chloroform (a murder-for-hire conspiracy), and a fraud on casino slot machines using electronic hacking devices - equalling a "dizzying array of criminal schemes", said Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim. Five people are still at large, the Justice Department said. "Yes, there are tattooed thugs around".

Numerous crimes the suspects are being charged with are expected to be tried for maximum sentences, according to court documents.