|Founding location||Solntsevo Moscow, Russia, former Soviet Union|
|Years active||1970s-present|
|Territory||Russia, Ukraine, Hungary, Czech Republic, United States, Israel, United Kingdom, France, Benelux, Spain, South Africa and other parts of Europe, Africa and Australia.|
|Ethnicity||Predominantly Russian, Russian Jews, Georgians, other nationalities|
|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, Albanian mafia, Serbian mafia, and business partnerships with Colombian Cartels, Chinese Triads and Italian mafia Families|
|Rivals||Chechen mafia, Tambovskaya Bratva|
Rise to power
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 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 group's intentions.
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. 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 organisation is also involved in the international cocaine trade, with its links to Colombian drug cartels brokered by the Cuntrera-Caruana Mafia clan. And operate all over United States to the tropical islands of the Caribbean.
Current status and recent activity
- McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld - Misha Glenny
- Khlebnikov P.; Conversation with a Barbarian: Interviews with a Chechen Field Commander on Banditry and Islam - Moscow, Detekiv-Press, 2003
- Paul Khlebnikov - Godfather of the Kremlin
- "The Billion Dollar Don" (Transcript of BBC Panorama documentary which cites Mikhailov and Solntsevskaya in association with Mogilevich)
- Glenny; McMafia
- Friedman, Robert; Red Mafiya: How the Russian Mob Has Invaded America; 2000
- Gentelev, Alexander; Thieves by Law; 2010
- Glenny; McMafia
- US embassy cables: Moscow mayor oversees corrupt system, says US