Solntsevskaya Bratva

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Solntsevskaya Bratva
Founding location Solntsevo Moscow, Russia, former Soviet Union
Years active 1980-present
Territory Russia,Ukraine,United States,Israel,France,South Africa, Spain and other parts of Europe and Africa[1]
Ethnicity Predominantly Russian, Russian Jews, Georgians, other nationalities
Membership 9000
Criminal activities Racketeering, extortion, illegal gambling, bookmaking, gun running,cybercrime, human trafficking, prostitution, drug running, drug trafficking, robbery, arson, bribery, money laundering, fraud, larceny, murder, motor vehicle theft, fencing.
Allies Orekhovskaya gang and business partnerships with Colombian Cartels,Chinese Triads and Italian mafia Families
Rivals Chechen mafia

The Solntsevskaya Bratva (Russian: Солнцевская братва), also known as the Solntsevskaya Brotherhood or Solntsevskaya gang is the biggest and most powerful crime syndicate of the Russian mafia.

Rise to power[edit]

The Solntsevskaya gang was founded in the late 1980s by Sergei Mikhailov, a former waiter who'd 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 M-KAT highway leading to Ukraine, as well as the Domodedovo International Airport. Controlling these transport hubs allowed the Solntsevo group to muscle in on the car import business.[2] 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.[3] The gang war claimed many casualties, and in a gun battle at the Kazakhstan Cinema six Chechens and four Russians were killed.[4]

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 group's intentions.[5]

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.[6]

Activity overseas[edit]

In the 1990s, the Solntsevskaya dispatched Vyacheslav Ivankov to Brighton Beach, New York City, to take control of the Russian-Jewish 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.[7] 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.[8]

The organisation is also involved in the international cocaine trade, with its links to Colombian drug cartels brokered by the Cuntrera-Caruana Mafia clan.[9]

Current status and recent activity[edit]

In 2009, Maxim Sheaib was a prominent name that surfaced in the crime world. Underground organizations know him as the Prince. Sheaib is also known as the negotiator between different counterparts in criminal organizations, allowing him the nickname of the Diplomat. He had a wide presence in Thailand during and after Viktor Bout arrest. It is reported that Sheaib arranged meetings and negotiations between Bout counterparts and other organizations while residing in Malaysia.[10] He was last reported to be seen in 2012, in Singapore and Malaysia, meeting with previous members of the Sa Lah Kau gang and the Triad. Sheaib origins are not clear due to his strong ties with different ethnic groups as well as many relationships in different regions. Mark Galeotti examined the existence of Brothers' Circle, known as the family of eleven or the twenty, in which Maxim Sheaib is an alleged member. Sheaib has strong presence in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. He was reportedly noted during Viktor Bout arrest and had links to the meeting between Aslan Usoyan and Tariel Oniani. His ties in the Middle East reach close people around Sheikhs, Emirs, and high ranking politicians.[11] Some facts state that Sheaib was present in Eastern Europe right before the death of Vyacheslav Ivankov as well as Aslan Usoyan. The same speculation was revealed that Maxim Sheaib was in Eastern Europe prior to both of their deaths.[12]

According to documents made public during the 2010 Wikileaks scandal, the Solntsevo gang continues racketeering operations under the protection of the FSB.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld - Misha Glenny
  3. ^ Khlebnikov P.; Conversation with a Barbarian: Interviews with a Chechen Field Commander on Banditry and Islam - Moscow, Detekiv-Press, 2003
  4. ^ Paul Khlebnikov - Godfather of the Kremlin
  5. ^ "The Billion Dollar Don" (Transcript of BBC Panorama documentary which cites Mikhailov and Solntsevskaya in association with Mogilevich)
  6. ^ Glenny; McMafia
  7. ^ Friedman, Robert; Red Mafiya: How the Russian Mob Has Invaded America; 2000
  8. ^ Gentelev, Alexander; Thieves by Law; 2010
  9. ^ Glenny; McMafia
  10. ^ Thai Border Arrests, The Journal, 2009
  11. ^ "In a River Raid, a Glimpse of Russia’s Criminal Elite". The New York Times. July 30, 2008. Retrieved 2013-10-29. 
  12. ^ Name (required). "Another Go Round the ‘Brothers’ Circle’ | In Moscow's Shadows". Retrieved 2013-10-29. 
  13. ^ US embassy cables: Moscow mayor oversees corrupt system, says US