Tags: 'Red | Mafia' | Operating | the | U.S. | Helping | Terrorists

'Red Mafia' Operating in the U.S. – Helping Terrorists

Friday, 28 September 2001 12:00 AM

Some background first. There are thousands of Mafia-type organized crime syndicates in Russia, including about 200 operating in Moscow alone, and more than 300 functioning internationally, according to Russian police estimates.

Total membership of these gangs, known to intelligence sources as a "Red Mafia," approximates almost 1 million "soldiers" – or the equivalent of all the Russian army's ground forces.

The Red Mafia is the continuation of Russia's Communist old guard. This is why the Russian mafia is totally controlled and populated by "ex-KGB" and "ex-GRU" agents.

In reality, these men still work for Russian intelligence agencies and are still communist and still intent on destroying America – but today they have a new front and one that appears to the West less menacing.

The Red Mafia is up to all the same tricks the KGB engaged in, but now Western leaders dismiss the problems as simply a "mafia" one rather than blaming the Russian government.

The Russians are providing nuclear technology to rogue countries like Iran – and the Americans and media here buy the excuse that "the mafia" is doing it – as Russian leaders say, "We have no control over it."

This is the same mafia that staged a series of apartment bombings in Russia – using, guess who, groups linked to Osama bin Laden.

Today, U.S. intelligence experts believe that almost two-thirds of all commercial institutions in Russia, some 400 banks (those in Moscow alone control more than 80 percent of the country's finances), dozens of stock exchanges, and hundreds of large government enterprises are controlled by the mobs. About 40 percent of the GDP in Russia is in the hands of organized crime, working in concert with corrupt officials and businessmen.

These are striking figures, especially when compared to a range of 5 percent to 7 percent in the industrialized countries and up to 30 percent for some African and Latin American nations.

Of course this is Russia's domestic problem, but unfortunately now it is not only Russia's, because about 30 of the most powerful and dangerous Russian gangs are already operating in almost all American states.

Using practically unlimited resources from Russia, these criminal syndicates are working independently and in close cooperation with local gangsters to establish control over America's profitable small and medium-size businesses.

In addition, Russian mobsters are penetrating the most sensitive areas of large U.S. companies and corporations, stealing their secrets to sell and using stolen data for their own illegal activities.

They are also very busy destroying local life by taking a very active part in contract murder, extortion and racketeering, money laundering, fraud, prostitution, and other criminal "business."

Russian mobsters also pay very close attention to drug trafficking, considering this area as most promising and profitable.

In this activity Russian mobsters are using their international connections and expertise in cooperation with the most dangerous drug cartels of Latin American countries.

The seizure last May of 20 tons of cocaine from two "fishing boats" off the West Coast, manned by Russian and Ukrainian crewmen, has raised concerns in the U.S. intelligence community that Mexican drug cartels are doing business with the Red Mafia.

American experts believe that drug cartels in Mexico, considered to be among the world's most ruthless, have followed the lead of Colombian cocaine smugglers in forging alliances with the Russian mobsters and other Eastern European crime syndicates.

Led by the Arellano-Felix cartel in Tijuana, those alliances have been firmly established and involved in the shipment of both cocaine and heroin.

It is known that Colombian drug cartels established connections with the Russian Mafia as early as 1992. Russian mobsters, who operated from New York, Florida and Puerto Rico, moved quickly to help the Colombians import drugs into Europe through Italy.

Employing many former KGB agents, Russian criminal syndicates controlled almost all banks in Moscow and St. Petersburg and established others in Panama and the Caribbean to launder billions of dollars in illicit drug profits for themselves as well as for the Colombians.

As NewsMax.com reported, the partnership gave the Colombians a new market for their cocaine and heroin, nearly all of which previously had been destined for the U.S. It also provided the Colombians with an access to sophisticated weapons, intelligence-gathering equipment and other military hardware, including dozens of airplanes and helicopters, and special super-speedboats now being used to ferry drugs out of the country.

Chillingly, they almost got a Russian submarine for drug smuggling but the FBI destroyed the deal.

Russian criminals are also very busy in cyberspace, considering this area a most profitable one for their future profits and development. The Red Mafia is working very carefully in cyberspace, and the real scope of this criminal activity is still little known by the American people.

Until now we have known only about some cases involving Russian criminals and small-crime groups, which were disclosed by the U.S. law-enforcement agencies.

However, Russian hackers are blamed for a series of spectacular feats in recent years, particularly for stealing secret Microsoft source codes, ransacking the Pentagon's computers, hacking into NATO's military websites, posting thousands of credit card numbers on the Internet, and stealing million of dollars from Western banks.

According to press reports, Russian hackers first captured the world's imagination in 1994, when a young mathematician, Vladimir Levin, hacked into the computers of Citibank and transferred $12 million to the bank accounts of his friends around the world.

He conducted the entire operation from his little one-room apartment in St. Petersburg.

Levin was arrested, but his case inspired other hackers, for example, Ilya Hoffman, a talented viola student at the Moscow Conservatory, who was detained in 1998 on charges of stealing $97,000 over the Internet. Another group of Russians stole more than $630,000 by hacking into Internet retailers and grabbing credit card numbers.

Some of the world's biggest Internet companies, including CompuServe and AOL, were forced to abandon Russia in 1997 because of the widespread use of stolen passwords.

Currently, Russian hackers are very busy in coordinated attacks on commercial and military computers in the U.S. and other members of NATO. When the North Atlantic alliance launched its bombing campaign in Yugoslavia in 1999, Russian hackers retaliated with their own wave of attacks on NATO member countries, breaking into their websites, posting anti-war slogans and overloading them with floods of junk e-mails.

In October 2000, a sustained break-in of Microsoft's highest-security network was traced back to a computer address in St. Petersburg. In January of the same year, an unidentified Russian hacker calling himself MAXUS stole more than 300,000 credit card numbers from CD Universe in an extortion bid, but was never caught. This list could go on and on, but there is no surprise over the quality of Russian hackers, who are extremely well-educated and talented.

However, in Moscow there is a special training center for hackers named the Civil Hackers' School, which exists with the support of Russia's intelligence services and criminal syndicates. Officially, the school is preparing specialists for legitimate jobs in computer security by shaping the new generation of computer whiz kids.

But in reality it is providing high-level training for young Russian hackers, who have provoked fear and anxiety in the West. Since 1996 this Civil Hackers' School, operating from a shabby little Moscow apartment, has trained several hundred highly trained hackers, who find jobs in the Russian intelligence community as well as in organized crime groups.

In the high-stakes game pitting fleet-fingered Russian hackers against the giants of American e-commerce and law enforcement, the Russians have been winning almost every time. All of these crimes, however, pale in comparison to the sheer size and scope of a hacking and extortion web that was so large that the FBI took the unusual step of warning the public about it in a March 2001 press release.

In this document, the FBI cited the ongoing danger from several organized hacker groups from Eastern Europe, specifically Russia and Ukraine, who were responsible for stealing more than 1 million credit card numbers and attacking the networks of over 40 businesses in 20 states of the U.S.

Nobody apparently knows, or perhaps even cares, how deeply the Red Mafia has already penetrated the American establishment. But the danger of this activity is already real in many American states and needs very close attention from U.S. law enforcement agencies, which until now have not been able to cope with this problem.

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Some background first. There are thousands of Mafia-type organized crime syndicates in Russia, including about 200 operating in Moscow alone, and more than 300 functioning internationally, according to Russian police estimates. Total membership of these gangs, known to...
Friday, 28 September 2001 12:00 AM
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