An unexampled operation against the Russian mafia took place in America and Europe. The operation was called Operation Spiderweb. The largest international criminal network, which was organized by people who originated from Russia and CIS countries, has been destroyed.
The BBC reported that there were some 50 people arrested (basically in Italy) and criminal proceedings were instituted against 150 others. They all are accused of money laundering and drugs and arms trafficking. Russian special services took part in the operation as well, but the undertaking itself was actually initiated by the Italian police in cooperation with special services of France, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, and the American FBI.
The La Republica newspaper reported that the businessmen, which did not raise any suspicion at all, were involved in criminal activity. The cash flowed to Europe from Russia and CIS countries legally and illegally, then it was returned in the form of various equipment, furniture, timber materials, clothes, and so on. The major center of the laundering scheme was Rimini, on the Adriatic Sea. The extortion and threats against Russian businessmen became the reason to start the probe in 1997-1998. The probe determined the connection between the criminals and Chechen terrorists. The latter provided security guards for smuggling shipments. A part of the Russian mafia backed up the Chechen guerrillas that were in touch with Al-Qaida.
The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera published an article about the Russian mafia as well. It was reported in the article that the criminal association wanted to gain control over commercial relations between Italy and the countries of the former Soviet Union. In 1999, the money laundering system was discovered. The inflow of cash from the USA was rather conspicuous, and the Bank of New York was involved.
Sergey Yugov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov