Red Mafiya: How the Russian Mob Has Invaded America

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9780316294744: Red Mafiya: How the Russian Mob Has Invaded America

"In North America alone there are now thirty Russian crime syndicates operating in at least seventeen U.S. cities, most notably New York, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Denver. The Russians have already pulled off the largest jewelry heist and insurance Medicare frauds in American history, with a net haul exceeding $1 billion. They have invaded North America's financial markets, orchestrating complex stock scams, allegedly laundering billions of dollars through the Bank of New York, and coolly infiltrating the business and real estate worlds.

"The Russians didn't come here to enjoy the American dream," New York state tax agent Roger Berger says glumly. "They came here to steal it." -From the Introduction From an award-winning investigative journalist comes an astonishing exposi of Russian organized crime, its growing power in the United States, and its terrifying implications for the rest of the world.

In the past decade, from Brighton Beach to Moscow, Toronto to Hong Kong, the Russian mob has become the world's fastest-growing criminal superpower. Trafficking in prostitutes, heroin, and missiles, the mafiya poses an enormous threat to global stability and safety. The black-market corruption of the Brezhnev era proved the perfect breeding ground for organized crime. Beginning in the 1970s, Soviet ?migr?s--including a large number of felons and murderers the USSR was happy to get rid of--began arriving in the United States and quickly established themselves as a major criminal force in New York, Las Vegas, and elsewhere. But it was the breakup of the Soviet Union that made the

Russian mob what it is today. In a weakened, impoverished Russia, it quickly became the dominant power. And it has now spread to every corner of the United States, infiltrating its banks and brokerage firms--and American law enforcement is just waking up to this enormous problem. No journalist in the world knows more about the Russian mob in America than Robert Friedman. At great risk to himself, he has made connections with a number of top criminals who have gone on record about their activities for the first time. The result of his discoveries is a revelation: the Red Mafiya is everywhere. The implications--for law enforcement, the economy, foreign policy, for the American people themselves--are staggering."

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Review:

Amid his efforts to expose the Russian mob, Robert I. Friedman learned from the FBI that "the most brilliant and savage Russian mob organization in the world" had put a $100,000 price on his head. Reading Red Mafiya, it's not hard to see why: this is a brave book about a troubling subject. Friedman, a freelance journalist, describes the research behind it: "I ventured into the Russians' gaudy strip clubs in Miami Beach; paid surprise visits to their well-kept suburban homes in Denver; interviewed hit men and godfathers in an array of federal lockups; and traveled halfway around the world trying to make sense of their tangled criminal webs, which have ensnared everyone from titans of finance and the heads of government to entire state security services." Their racket involves heroin smuggling, weapons trafficking, mass extortion, and casino operation, among other activities. "Blending financial sophistication with bone-crunching violence, the Russian mob has become the FBI's most formidable criminal adversary, creating an international criminal colossus that has surpassed the Colombian cartels, the Japanese Yakuzas, the Chinese triads, and the Italian Mafia in wealth and weaponry," writes Friedman. They've even penetrated professional hockey, as Friedman shows in an eye-opening chapter ("Federal authorities have come to fear that the NHL is now so compromised by Russian gangsters that the integrity of the game itself may be in jeopardy").

Red Mafiya benefits from a breezy narrative in detailing a master criminal operation whose influence on the United States is growing rapidly. Russian mobsters already have siphoned off millions of dollars in foreign aid meant to prop up their country's economy--and they may have a more direct impact on American national security concerns in the years ahead: "The Russian mob virtually controls their nuclear-tipped former superpower," writes Friedman. Now, there's a scary thought. Lifting the Iron Curtain seems to have been a mixed blessing: it let freedom in, and organized crime out. --John J. Miller

From Publishers Weekly:

This disturbing, sharply rendered account tells how the post-Communist Russian Mafiya has infiltrated American life with tactical intelligence and a rare level of viciousness. Drawing from interviews with top Russian mobsters and police, journalist Friedman (Zealots for Zion: Inside Israel's West Bank Settlement Movement) trenchantly explores the brutal corruption of the U.S.S.R. and the anarchic greed that has flourished since its collapse, incubating a "criminal colossus that has surpassed the Colombian cartels, the Japanese Yakuzas, the Chinese triads and the Italian Mafia in wealth and weaponry." Friedman, whose reporting on this subject has appeared in Vanity Fair, the Village Voice and other publications, writes of one wise guy responsible for 100 hits and of "Tarzan"Dthe swaggering Miami mobster busted while attempting to tender a Russian submarine to Colombian drug lords. Friedman documents how the mobsters have imported their brand of terror tacticsDshakedowns, kidnappings, bombings and public assassinationDfrom Moscow to Russian communities in Denver, Brooklyn's Brighton Beach and elsewhere, and examines what he casts as the largely inadequate, uninformed responses by law enforcement. Perhaps most disturbing, he suggests, is this: following profitable 1980s-era gasoline bootlegging schemes, Mafiya criminals shrewdly expanded into numerous quasi-legal pursuitsDestablishing luxurious Russian-themed nightclubs, corrupting Russian migr ice hockey players and making inroads in Israel through their own Jewish ethnicity. Friedman isn't always in control of the bewildering array of players and narrative threads that make up his complicated tale. But there's much to praise in this frightening, urgent reportorial projectDa project that has resulted in death threats against Friedman, as he relates in his hair-raising introduction. Photo insert not seen by PW. BOMC alternate. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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