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Russian Mafia Casino Hackers Arrested in Las Vegas 10/06/17
• Chocolate Factory, murder, extortion, bootlegging, and bribery on the side
• World Boxing Champion Avtandil Khurtsidze amongst arrested

US law enforcement agencies on Wednesday layed charges against 33 individuals with some pretty startling sidelines.

It's hardly surprising that a bunch of mobsters and racketeers would trade in firearms and narcotics. Hacking casino slot machines with smuggled electronics is more exotic; and shipping around 4.5 metric tonnes (10,000 pounds) of chocolate is a genuine surprise.

The FBI, US Customs and Border Protection, the New York Police Department and Southern New York acting US attorney Joon Kim allege those schemes included “a murder-for-hire conspiracy, a plot to rob victims by seducing and drugging them with chloroform, the theft of cargo shipments containing over 10,000 pounds of chocolate, and a fraud on casino slot machines using electronic hacking devices”.

The Feds say the syndicate was led by Razhden Shulaya and Zurab Dzhanashvili, and in proper Godfather fashion, Shulaya acted as “vor” (“thief-in-law”, the release says) and promised protection to those working for him.

RAZHDEN SHULAYA a/k/a “Brother,” a/k/a “Roma,” a “vor v zakonei” or “vor,” which are Russian phrases translated roughly as “thief-in-law” or “thief,” and which refer 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.

Of the casino hacks, casinos in Atlantic City and Philadelphia were targeted, the charge-sheet says. Attackers would capture slot-machine sequences with undefined “electronic devices”, and send them to remote servers that would work out likely future sequences.

Such attacks came to light in February, and work because slot machines have a long life, and are very tightly regulated (all the way down to the code), making it difficult to upgrade old, machine-predictable pseudo-random number generators.

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

Shulaya was arrested in Las Vegas Wednesday morning, and appeared in federal court for a brief hearing later in the day. U.S. Magistrate Judge George Foley ordered his transfer to New York, where the case is being prosecuted.

“I understand what they accused me of, but I just don’t understand why,” the 40-year-old Shulaya, a Russian national, said through a translator after the judge asked him if he understood the charges contained in the seven-count indictment against him and other members of the New York City-based “Shulaya Enterprise.”

In a statement released Wednesday, acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim, who is overseeing prosecution, accused the Shulaya Enterprise of engaging in a “panoply of crimes around the country.” Kim said the case represented “one of the first federal racketeering charges ever brought against a Russian ‘vor.’”

After the names of the detainees were published, it became clear that 15 of them were Georgian citizens, including two world-famous athletes - World Boxing Champion Avtandil Khurtsidze and MMA fighter Levan Makashvili, who competed in UFC championships.
Khurtsidze commented on his arrest on Facebook, describing what happened as a "big misunderstanding." He noted that he arrived in New York to prepare for a fight with Billy Joe Saunders, which, is to be held only on July 8, and in London.