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.
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
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.
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.
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.
understand what they accused me of, but I just dont 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
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.