The Solntsevskaya Organized Crime Group (Russian: Солнцевская организованная преступная группировка), also known as the Solntsevskaya Bratva (Russian: Солнцевская братва), is the largest and most powerful crime syndicate of the Russian mafia.
Other simplified versions of the name are Solntsevskaya Brotherhood and Solntsevskaya gang. The group is not a common gang, but a well organized criminal organization.
Rise to power
The Solntsevskaya gang was founded in the late 1980s by Sergei Mikhailov, a former waiter who had served a prison term for fraud. Based out of the Solntsevo District of Moscow, the gang recruited local unemployed, aggressive young men as foot soldiers and also made use of thief in law Dzhemal Khachidze to enhance their reputation amongst established criminals. The Solntsevo District was also strategically located near the M3 highway leading to Ukraine, the MKAD, Moscow's ring road, as well as the Vnukovo International Airport. Controlling these transport hubs allowed the Solntsevo group to muscle in on the car import business. But by the early 1990s, the Solntsevo's dominance was challenged by the Chechen mafia. Together with the Orekhovskaya gang and other Slavic mobs, the Solntsevo made an alliance to drive the Chechens out. The gang war claimed many casualties, and in a gun battle at the Kazakhstan Cinema six Chechens and four Russians were killed.
The gang was at one point linked to criminal mastermind Semion Mogilevich, through whom they laundered money. But a 1995 party at a Prague hotel, attended by Mikhailov as well as Uzbek drug trafficker Gafur Rakhimov, was raided by Czech police who received information that they were planning to kill Mogilevich there following a dispute. Mogilevich himself was nowhere to be found, having received advance information about both groups' intentions.
By the end of the 1990s, the Solntsevskaya gang started moving into the banking sector, a move which enabled them to launder their money as well as get closer to the oligarchs.
In the 1990s, the Solntsevskaya dispatched Vyacheslav Ivankov to Brighton Beach, New York City, and Mikhail Odenussa to Atlanta, Georgia, to take control of the Russian mob activities there. The FBI was alerted to Ivankov's presence, however, and after a long investigation he was arrested and convicted of extortion, becoming the first thief-in-law to be convicted in the United States. While Ivankov was not as successful, his counterpart Odenussa has been controlling Russian organized crime in Atlanta for over 20 years, while avoiding prosecution. Odenussa has had a firm grip on the city, with an army of killers to back him up. Although not as large as the drug cartels of Mexico that have sent men to try and set up shop in the Dixie Capital, Odenussa and his cohorts have out gunned the Mexican drug cartels and the African American gangs in Atlanta. The Solntsevskaya have also been active in Israel, primarily using it as a base for money laundering. But attempts to infiltrate Israeli politics were countered by vigilant law enforcement.
The organization is also involved in the international cocaine trade, with its links to Colombian drug cartels brokered by the Cuntrera-Caruana Mafia clan.
Current status and recent activity
According to the US, as published during the 2010 Wikileaks scandal, the Solntsevo gang continues racketeering operations under the protection of the FSB.