Thirty-three suspected members of an organized Russian crime syndicate were arrested on suspicion of various crimes, including robbery, murder-for-hire conspiracy, firearms offenses — and stealing 10,000 pounds of chocolate confections.
“Today, we have charged 33 members and associates of a Russian organized crime syndicate allegedly engaging a panoply of crimes around the country,” said Acting Manhattan US Attorney Joon Kim in statement released Wednesday. “The dizzying array of criminal schemes committed by this organized crime syndicate allegedly include … a plot to rob victims by seducing and drugging them with chloroform,” the statement continued.
According to the Southern District of New York’s State Attorney’s office, charges include:
- Theft of cargo shipments, including approximately 10,000 pounds of chocolate confections.
- Having females seduce men, incapacitate them with gas, and then rob them.
- Selling untaxed cigarettes.
- Scheming to pay bribes for law-enforcement officials.
- Operating illegal poker businesses and extorting gamblers who became indebted to them.
- Plans to defraud casinos in Atlantic City and Philadelphia by using electronics that could predict the behavior of slot machines.
The defendants are allegedly directly associated with the Shulaya Enterprise, an organized criminal group operating under the protection and direction of a “vor,” or “thief-in-law.”
“Vor” refers to the high-ranking criminals from the former Soviet Union that were respected in the criminal underworld. They were offered tributes from other criminal organizations and used their status to adjudicate disputes amongst other junior-level criminals, the State Attorney’s office said.
The racketeering charges are considered to be one of the first of a federal nature to be brought against a vor.
“The Thief-in-Law allegedly established an extensive cross-country criminal enterprise from Brighton Beach to Las Vegas,” said NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill. “Thanks to all whose work resulted in the arrest and indictment of 33 today.”