Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Russian Organized Crime Abroad Shifting from Berlin to New York, New ZDF Film Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 28 – Since the end of the cold war, Berlin has been the center of Russian organized crime abroad, with an estimated 10,000 Russians there involved in illicit activities in Germany and taking in a million or more euros every year. But over the last several years, Russian criminal “authorities” have shifted to New York, according to a ZDF film.

            Germany was originally the most attractive place for Russian criminal gangs to work, the film says; but now as wealthy Russians have decided to try to live in the US rather than in Germany, the gangs are crossing the Atlantic because they have traditionally served as unacknowledged partners of wealthy Russians (svpressa.ru/world/article/269384/).

            The Russian gangs have made their money from contraband and the sale of cocaine, prostitution, human trafficking and arms deals and then have laundered this “dirty money” via construction projects and property acquisition. The television film says Germany has “the ideal conditions” for their operations.

            The police have not gone after them consistently, Moscow has not shared with German authorities information about them, and many German outlets focus on what they call “the Chechen mafia” which among other things has the effect of distracting attention from the Russian criminal bands. 

            But as opportunities for investment by wealthy Russians have expanded in the United States, Russian organized crime has crossed the ocean, focusing on New York. One curious feature of its activities in the US is that, in contrast to Germany, many young Americans interested in a life of crime have tried to join the Russian mafia.

            They are thus helping the Russian mafia to expand its operations, but experts warn that these Americans are not going to be admitted to the top ranks of the Russian mob, even if they adopt Russian language, Russian names and Russian manners. That is a red line that the Russian mob doesn’t appear willing to allow anyone to cross, the German film suggests.

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