US: Brooklyn Suspects Linked to Eastern European Organized Crime Syndicate
American authorities Wednesday arrested eight alleged members of an Eastern European organized crime syndicate they say committed an array of mob-related crimes in collusion with a large transnational organized crime group.
The indictment, unsealed in New York's Eastern District federal court, names one more suspect, who is still on the run. The nine suspects are accused of loansharking, racketeering, extortion, illegal gambling and drug trafficking.
All but two of the defendants are naturalized US citizens who immigrated from Eastern European countries. One was born in the US, and a second is a Ukrainian citizen.
The syndicate based its illegal operations in Brooklyn, but also operated overseas, due to its close ties with Russian-speaking organized crime figures in Eastern Europe.
Prosecutors say defendants reported directly to the transnational crime group which authorized the Brooklyn-based group to use physical violence against individuals in the US. In turn, the Eastern Europeans would allegedly help the defendants extort money from individuals living abroad.
Prosecutors say the group started to generate profits from its illegal activities in March.
Although investigators say many of the defendants were unemployed, they drove luxury cars and records revealed thousands of US dollars flowing into their bank accounts.
The investigation revealed that the syndicate ran several high-stakes illegal poker games throughout Brooklyn, with wagers as large as US$ 150,000 per game. The indictment also alleges the group trafficked at least 100 kilograms of marijuana.
The group's alleged loansharking activities illustrate the far reach of its illegal activities.
Prosecutors say the Brooklyn syndicate collected debts worth “millions of dollars” through threats of violence. With help from their European associates, extortion operations in the US allegedly included threatening victims' families living abroad.