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Russian crime boss arrested in Spain on murder charges

MOSCOW, May 22 (RAPSI) – A leader of a Russian organized crime group suspected of over 20 murders has been arrested in Spain, Kommersant newspaper writes.
In the late 1990s, Dmitry Zavyalov and two of his accomplices created a gang to assume control of the Pushkino District in the Moscow Region. They were involved in racketeering, hostile takeovers and contract murders.
The other gangsters in the district were nonplused. According to the newspaper, one of Zavyalov’s accomplices, Mikhail Prutov, was killed in Moscow in 2002 following a conflict with another organized crime group. That crime was followed by the murder of dozens of criminal leaders and businessmen. Zavyalov’s accomplice Dmitry Lesnyakov was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Zavyalov, 28, was living in Spain on a fake Belgian passport. He was arrested during a routine border check in La Jonquera, a municipality in Catalonia on the border with France. He was taken to a police station where his true identity was established, along with an alert indicating that he was armed and dangerous.
“Zavyalov was arrested because the Spanish police have many informants in the semi-criminal part of the Russian diaspora,” Kommersant writes. “One of the agents alerted the police about Zavyalov’s true identity. Zavyalov remains in custody pending an extradition hearing.”

The newspaper writes that the Spanish authorities had notified Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office about Zavyalov’s arrest.

Obama Targets Russian Mob Boss

The U.S. government has publicly added 12 Russian officials to a list of human right violators but he head of the Russian Investigative Committee may be on a still secret part of that list.
The State and Treasury Departments Tuesday sanctioned a dozen Russian officials under the Magnitsky Act, adding them to a public list of human rights violators subject to asset freezes and visa bans in the United States. But Alexander Bastrykin, the powerful head of Russia’s Investigative Committee, was not on the list, at least the version released to the public.
The twelve names publicly announced for sanctions Tuesday include Dmitry Klyuev, the alleged kingpin of a Russian organized crime group. 10 of the 12 Russians on the list were associated with the death of Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian anti-corruption lawyer who died in prison after being severely tortured. Magnitsky was then posthumously convicted for tax fraud. The judge who convicted Magnitsky after he died, Igor Alisov, was also sanctioned Tuesday.
Bastrykin’s name was conspicuously not on the public list, but administration sources said one name was added to the classified version of the Magnitsky list. Administration officials declined to comment on whether or not that person was Bastrykin. If so, he would be the highest ranking Russian sanctioned thus far under the law.
In January, four senior senators used a provision of the law to force the administration to consider sanctions on Klyuev and Bastrykin. Both had been vetted and prepared for sanctions inside the administration last year but the White House ultimately decided not to add any names to the Magnitsky list at the time.
Using what’s called the “congressional trigger,” Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Bob Corker (R-TN), John McCain (R-AZ), and Ben Cardin (D-MD), compelled the administration to make a final decision on whether to sanction for Klyuev and Bastrykin. Cardin said Tuesday he was not sure yet if Bastrykin was sanctioned secretly by the administration.
William Browder, a former associate of Magnitsky, who has been a staunch advocated of adding names to the list, told The Daily Beast Tuesday that the Obama administration’s additions to the list were a step in the right direction.
"This is highly significant because it shows that the Magnitsky act will be an ongoing tool of the US government to take away impunity of Russian human rights abusers when the repressions there are increasing so dramatically,” he said. "This came as a result of four senators using a provision in the Magnitsky Act called the congressional trigger. This allows Congress to suggest names of human rights violators to the State department. I'm not sure if this list would ever been published without the intervention of Congress."
One senior GOP Senate aide said Tuesday that the administration’s actions were a day late and a dollar short.
“This list once again demonstrates the administration’s lack of seriousness about Russian human rights violations,” the aide said. “With events in Russia and Ukraine, it is troubling that the administration is so opposed to using this tool and that it required the Senate to force them into action.”
Cardin and McCain now support legislation that would expand the Magnitsky list to cover human rights violators in every country in the world. The adminstration opposed this idea when it was first floated last year.

Wanna pizza me? Mafia thugs storm Italian restaurant in Russia and smash it up over 'protection racket'

Police believe the baseball bat-wielding men were sent by a gangster
They believe it was because the restaurant owner would not pay up
Four employees were hurt in the attack - two were seriously injured


CCTV footage has caught the terrifying moment dozens of mafia thugs stormed a pizza restaurant and smashed in an alleged protection money racket.  Police are convinced the baseball bat-wielding mob were sent by a gangster because the restaurant owner in the federal subject of Krasnodar Krai, near the Black Sea, was not paying his due to the mob.

The restaurant, which is a favourite of local youngsters and businessmen, was suddenly stormed on Tuesday evening by 40 masked men who set about demolishing the fixtures and fittings and beating up the staff.
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CCTV footage has caught the terrifying moment dozens of mafia thugs stormed a pizza restaurant and smashed it up in an attempt to force the owner to pay protection money

Police are convinced the baseball bat-wielding mob were sent by a gangster because the restaurant owner in the federal subject of Krasnodar Krai, near the Black Sea, was not paying his due to the mob

The restaurant, which is a favourite of local youngsters and businessmen, was suddenly stormed on Tuesday evening by 40 masked men who set about demolishing the fixtures and fittings and beating up the staff
Ruben Zubarev, a customer who was inside at the time, said: 'They just stormed in and shouted out: "Nobody move and you won't get hurt. We're not here for customers." '
'Then they dragged two staff people outside and began beating them with their bats.

'There was crockery flying, great holes knocked in the plaster in the wall, tables smashed.
'The sound of the bats biting into bone and flesh was quite sickening. I just sat there trying not to look.'

Ruben Zubarev, a customer who was inside at the time, said: 'They just stormed in and shouted out: "Nobody move and you won't get hurt. We're not here for customers"'

Damage to the restaurant is estimated at over £20,000 The attack was over in minutes, but it left four employees injured, two seriously. Damage to the restaurant is estimated at over £20,000.  Police say the attack presented all the hallmarks of a mafia 'lesson,' probably as a result of the boss either refusing to pay protection money or being late on his payments. 'We are investigating,' said police, 'but it is difficult. 'The men were masked and the employees say they know nothing.'

Kiev Wants Moscow to Help Keep Joint Border Safe

Citing a recent surge in organized crime along its border with Russia, Kiev proposed to Moscow that the two adversaries join forces in order to stabilize the situation.
"Due to a significant deterioration of the situation on the Ukraine-Russia border, which has been marked by an intensification of cross-border activities carried out by organized crime groups, [Ukraine's] Foreign Ministry has sent a note to its counterpart in Russia," a source from Ukraine's Foreign Ministry told RIA Novosti.
Increased criminal activity along the border poses a threat both to nearby civilians and to Ukrainian border guards, the note said.
Any refusal by Russia to participate in a joint operation would  be viewed as a violation of the terms of bilateral agreements between the two nations, the Foreign Ministry source told RIA Novosti, without specifying which bilateral agreements specifically were being referred to.
Tensions have soared between Russia and Ukraine since the Feb. 22 ouster of former President Viktor Yanukovych.
On April 17, Russia agreed with Ukraine, the U.S. and the European Union on a number of measures aimed at de-escalating the Ukraine crisis. The parties agreed that all illegally armed groups should be disarmed, control over all buildings seized by pro-Russian separatists should be relinquished, and protesters should retreat from occupied sites throughout the country. 
The parties further urged the acting government in Kiev to launch a nationwide dialogue on constitutional reform.
Following the talks, both Moscow and Kiev have blamed each other for reneging on their obligations under the agreement.



Russian mafia linked to missing Queensland woman

A relative of a mother of five who vanished in Queensland believed the woman's disappearance might have been linked to the Russian mafia, a bag of ecstasy and $80,000, an inquest has heard.
Kathleen O'Shea, 44, who was living in Melbourne at the time, had been staying in the Atherton Tablelands, inland from Cairns, for the birth of her grandchild when she disappeared on December 29, 2005.
On Tuesday, Ms O'Shea's former partner John Parmenter told a coronial inquest in Cairns a relative believed a bag of ecstasy, $80,000 and the Russian mafia might be linked to Ms O'Shea's disappearance.
"But I didn't know if it was truth or fiction," he told the court, adding he didn't tell police about the possible link at the time.
He wasn't told what happened to the drugs or cash, or why Ms O'Shea might have been linked to Russian gangsters.
Mr Parmenter said the relative had spotted two vehicles near their property in the Atherton Tablelands about the time Ms O'Shea vanished.
He told the inquest he had heard rumours that a person known to Ms O'Shea was involved in her disappearance.
Another witness, Ms O'Shea's longtime friend John McKenzie, said he was disappointed the search for Ms O'Shea had been "hijacked" by a family dispute soon after her disappearance.
Searching for answers, Mr McKenzie, who lives in Melbourne, visited the Atherton Tablelands and spoke to Ms O'Shea's friends and family about a year after she went missing.
He told the inquest he felt everyone told him the truth and it was unlikely any of them had anything to do with her disappearance.
"I can't see her giving anyone a reason to kill her," he said.
"She's a bloody beautiful person and I'd be really happy to find out what happened to her."
Mr McKenzie said it was unlikely Ms O'Shea had just taken off because she loved her children too much not to make contact with them.
Although Ms O'Shea was a bit eccentric and regularly hitchhiked, she wouldn't have gone home with someone who had given her a lift, he said.
Ms O'Shea's son Daniel, who was 16 when his mother vanished, said it appeared his mother "disappeared into thin air" and there were no clues as to what happened to her.
On Monday, an arrest warrant was issued by Northern Coroner Jane Bentley for a person of interest in the case.
The warrant, which requires the person to give evidence at the inquest, was reportedly issued after a detective told the inquest the person displayed "strange" behaviour and refused to give a statement after Ms O'Shea's disappearance.
The person, who can't be named for legal reasons, will give evidence via video link on Wednesday morning.
The inquest continues.

Vadim Trincher Sentenced to Five Years for Russian Mob Links

Philip Conneller 

Former WPT champ Vadim Trincher will do time for his role in coordinating a $100 million criminal operation. (Image: WPT.com)
Former WPT winner Vadim Trincher has been sentenced to five years in prison by a New York judge for his role in organizing a wide-scale racketeering and money-laundering operation with direct ties to the Russian Mob.
The 53-year-old sobbed in the dock and apologized as the judge handed out the sentence, which was harsher than the prescribed sentencing guidelines and the toughest so far in the case, in which 34 defendants are being tried.
Anatoly Golubchik, accused with Trincher of being the head of the US wing of the operation, was also given a five-year jail term, while prominent art dealer and socialite Hillel “Helly” Nahmad received one year for his role in the ring. Both Trincher and Golubchik were also ordered to forfeit over $20 million each, over half of the $64 million in total forfeiture seized from defendants in the case.
Police Sting
The poker community was shocked following the news in April 2013 that the NYPD had carried out a string of raids that had resulted in the arrests of some of its own.
As well as Trincher, a handful of well-known poker players were arrested in connection with the syndicate, including Justin ‘BoostedJ’ Smith, Peter Feldman, Abe Mosseri, Edwin Ting and WSOP bracelet winner Bill Edler. Smith, a small fry in the operation, was sentenced earlier this year to two years of probation and 200 hours of community service, while Ting received five months in prison. The others are still awaiting sentencing.
$100 Million Operation
The court heard that bank accounts and businesses controlled by Trincher, Golubchik and others “laundered approximately $100 million in proceeds from their gambling operation in Russia and Ukraine through shell companies and bank accounts in Cyprus,” as well as through live and online sportsbooks that catered to Russian oligarchs. The group also hosted high-stakes poker games, which were attended by many famous poker players and sometimes by Hollywood celebrities, who were procured by the well-connected Nahmad. The operation ran from 2006 until it was disrupted by police in 2013.
Of the 34 defendants in the case, the only one still at large is Alimzhan Tokhtakounov, allegedly a Russian organized-crime boss who has been sought by US authorizes since the nineties. Prosecutors alleged that Trincher and Golubchik reported directly to Tokhtakounov.
In 2009, Vadim Trincher won the WPT Foxwoods Poker Classic for $731,079, beating Amnon Filippi heads-up, but long before his victory at Foxwoods, he was known in the poker world as a high-rolling businessman who lived in a luxury $6 million apartment in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. Vadim’s son, Illya Trincher, was a known player like his dad, and he also stands trial, along with his brother Eugene, both facing accusations of money-laundering.

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Organized crime group with connections to Romania distribute counterfeit drugs in Western Europe

by Irina Popescu

Italian investigators discovered that an organized crime group, with connections to Romania, is behind the distribution of stolen and counterfeit cancer drugs in Western Europe, stated an Italian official, cited by the Wall Street Journal.
The European Medicines Agency warned in mid-April that vials of Herceptin, produced by Roche Holding AG, had re-emerged, contaminated, in the UK, Germany and Finland, after being stolen in Italy. Alimta and Remicade drugs produced by Eli Lilly & Co. have also been stolen.
An investigation determined that these incidents weren’t isolated but the work of highly organized networks, said Domenico Di Giorgio, director for the prevention of counterfeiting at the pharmaceutical watchdog Italian Medicines Agency.
The group seems to implicate Camorra, an Italian organized-crime syndicate originating from Naples, and Eastern European networks, which include a Russian citizen based in Cyprus.
“Organized crime is certainly involved; it’s a central structure apparently based in Italy that commissions thefts of medicines in hospitals,” Di Giogio said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
The drugs were stolen from hospitals or distribution trucks in Italy and transferred to a licensed Italian wholesaler, according to a person familiar with the investigation.  That wholesaler received invoices for the drugs from fake wholesalers in Hungary, Romania and Latvia, and from Italy the drugs were sold in other European countries. The entire story here.

Poker Princess gets probation after guilty plea


NEW YORK (AP) — A woman dubbed the "poker princess" for her role hosting card games for the rich and famous learned Friday that prison isn't in the cards.
A Manhattan federal judge said prison would be too harsh a punishment for 36-year-old Molly Bloom because she had a minor role in a betting operation with links to Russian-American organized crime enterprises.
U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman sentenced her to a year of probation, fined her $1,000 and ordered her to perform 200 hours of community service, but only after questioning her about her book, "Molly's Game," being published next month. Furman said he wanted to make sure what she had written would not conflict with the contrition she expressed. He asked if there was anything in it that "would trouble me." She said there was not.
A promotion for the book on the HarperCollins website boasted it would reveal how a "petite brunette from Loveland, Colorado, ran the highest stakes, most exclusive poker game Hollywood had ever seen — she was its mistress, its lion tamer, its agent, and its oxygen. Everyone wanted in, few were invited to play."
The publisher promised to take readers inside the poker games she ran in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Las Vegas "until it all came crashing down around her."
Press reports have linked actors including Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Affleck to Bloom's games. Both have declined to comment.
Before she was sentenced, a composed Bloom acknowledged she had "made mistakes" but the experience and the criminal case has also "been a great opportunity for growth."
She said that since 2011, she had returned to "a life that has meaning and substance."
Her attorney, Jim Walden, had urged leniency, saying Bloom had conducted games legally by only accepting tips until a co-host insisted that they begin taking a cut of the pot or a fee known as a "rake," which lasted only a few months before she was forced from the games. He said she had lost all of the $1 million that the government said she made through the games. She now earns $19 an hour working at a friend's business, he said.
The poker games in New York were discovered by U.S. authorities following a trans-Atlantic money trail. They said players included professional athletes, Hollywood luminaries and business executives, some of whom ran up debts in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, but they gave no names.
Bloom was among more than 30 people charged last year in connection with the wide-ranging betting operation that laundered at least $100 million.
Among those charged was wealthy Manhattan art scion Hillel "Helly" Nahmad, who was sentenced earlier this week to a year and day in prison after he pleaded guilty to charges he helped run an illegal sports betting business.
Nahmad comes from an art-dealing clan whose collection includes 300 Picassos worth $900 million, according to Forbes. He also is known for socializing with Hollywood glitterati like DiCaprio.

Russian Gambling Ring Case Heads To Endgame with Vadim Trincher Sentencing

By Earl Burton -

In what has been a heavily watched case in both the poker world and the mainstream media, some of the final sentences have been handed down in the 2013 federal indictment of an alleged Russian gambling ring. Two men who were sentenced on Wednesday, Anatoly Golubchik and poker professional Vadim Trincher, will each serve five year prison sentences for their roles in the case that prosecutors allege laundered over $100 million through poker and sports betting. Another member of the American team, art dealer Hillel “Helly” Nahmad, was also sentenced to a year in prison and forfeited over $6.5 million in money and property.
In announcing the sentencing for Golubchik and Trincher, Southern District of New York U. S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated, “The sentences meted out to Anatoly Golubchik and Vadim Trincher are just and appropriate penalties for the roles the defendants played in this far-reaching, Russian-American organized crime ring. I’d like to thank the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York City Police Department, and the Internal Revenue Service for their tireless efforts in working to ensure that the members of this underground enterprise were held to account for their crimes.”
In addition to their prison terms, both Golubchik and Trincher will also forfeit $20 million each in cash, property and investments.
The federal government spelled out the involvement of Golubchik and Trincher during their sentencing. Between 2006 and 2012, the feds stated that Golubchik and Trincher were the American end of a $100 million gambling and poker operation that saw money flow around the globe. In total, 34 people were arrested in the massive indictment and, save for one, all have entered guilty pleas.
There were several notable names from the poker world that were a part of the case. Two of those men, William “Bill” Edler and Peter Feldman, have entered into deferred prosecution agreements last month that will keep them out of jail. A deferred prosecution agreement is one in which those involved offer to meet certain requirements with the prosecutors in exchange for amnesty from the charges they face. If Edler and Feldman meet those requirements (including fines and cooperation with the prosecution in providing evidence, among other things), then the charges of unlawful gambling that they face will be dismissed.
John Jarecki, known to the poker community as “John Hanson,” and Abe Mosseri have pled guilty to making fraudulent tax statements, failing to file tax returns and causing a financial institution to participate in a lottery in January of this year. They are still awaiting sentencing for their roles in the case, which will be handed out at the end of this month.
Another poker professional, Justin “BoostedJ” Smith, was spared any jail time in a plea deal he reached in late 2013. Charged with aiding an illegal sports gambling business, Smith could have received up to five years in prison for his actions. In his plea deal, however, Smith was able to garner a lesser sentence of two years of probation and another 200 hours of community service on top of that.
The only female charged in the case, Molly “The Poker Princess” Bloom, also pled guilty to gambling charges for her role as an organizer for illegal home games. She issued her guilty plea in December of last year and received a year of probation, a $1000 fine and 200 hours of community service on Friday. U. S. District Judge Jesse Furman said that prison was “too harsh” a sentence for Bloom, whom he determined had a minor role in the case.
In total, the 33 people that have reached plea deals have agreed to forfeit to the U. S. government a total of $68 million.
The only person involved with the case that has yet to even be apprehended will probably never see the inside of a U. S. courtroom. Alimzhan ‘Taiwanchik’ Tokhtakhounov, an alleged Russian organized crime syndicate leader, was allegedly the Russian end of the “Taiwanchik-Trincher Organization” (called such by federal prosecutors) and received millions from that group. One of Interpol’s most wanted fugitives, Tokhtakhounov is reportedly living in the open in Moscow, which has no extradition agreement with either Interpol or the United States, where he also faces charges of bribery at the 2002 Winter Olympics along with his role in this case.