"We have charged 33 members and associates of a Russian organized crime syndicate allegedly engaging in a panoply of crimes around the country", acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said in a statement on Wednesday.
Shulaya was referred to in the indictment as a "vor v zakonei" or "vor", which were Russian phrases that roughly translate to "thief-in-law" and refer to "an order of elite criminals from the former Soviet Union". According to the Department, while many of these crews were based in New York City, the Shulaya Enterprise had operations in various locations throughout the United States, including in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, Nevada and overseas.
An Edgewater resident was among alleged Russian mobsters charged for various crimes including extortion, fraud and stealing 10,000 pounds of chocolate, authorities said Wednesday.
Wednesday's action marks "one of the first federal racketeering charges ever brought against a Russian 'vor, '" or mob boss, Kim said.
Members of the Shulaya Enterprise, as the crime syndicate is called, are also charged with selling untaxed cigarettes, scheming to bribe local law enforcement officials, and operating illegal poker businesses.
While the Shulaya Enterprise operates throughout the USA, many of its members were born in the former Soviet Union and have strong ties to the country of Georgia, the Ukraine and the Russian Federation, according to the release.
When people hear about Russian organized crime, they picture a stereotypical Russian thug, said Galeotti, the Russian crime expert.
According to the New York Times, the court documents show that investigators collaborated with paid informers. "Marat-Uulu suggested, among other things, covering the corpse with lime and burying it, so that 'in a year, there won't be a hair'". If convicted, Jikia and Marat-Uulu could face life sentences on charges of firearm possession "in furtherance of a crime of violence", as well as charges of conspiracies to murder for hire and sell firearms to a felon. Some of the charges carry a maximum penalty of decades in prison.
Numerous crimes the suspects are being charged with are expected to be tried for maximum sentences, according to court documents.