Russian gang, gambling, bribery and chocolate trafficking

Shutterstock molten chocolate

FBI busts 33 alleged Russian mobsters who 'tried to set up illegal poker parlors in Brooklyn, did murder-for-hire, and illegally trafficked tens of thousands of pounds of CHOCOLATE'

According to the Department, while many of these crews were based in New York City, the Shulaya Enterprise had operations in various locations throughout the United States, including in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, Nevada and overseas.

Almost three-dozen organized crime members were busted by federal authorities in Manhattan Wednesday for an odd mishmash of crimes - trafficking 5 tons of stolen chocolate as well as hordes of illegal cigarettes.

The racketeering charges are considered to be one of the first of a federal nature to be brought against a vor.

"The suspects in this case cast a wide net of criminal activity, aiming to make as much money as possible, all allegedly organized and run by a man who promised to protect them", FBI Assistant Director in Charge William Sweeney said in a statement.

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Federal authorities arrested more than two dozen alleged members of a Russian gang involved in robbing, racketeering, narcotics and other crimes, including even stealing chocolate, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

The U.S. attorney's office in southern NY said the suspects operated internationally and across the United States trafficking in drugs and stolen goods, including cigarettes and shiploads of chocolate, while engaging in extortion, murder for hire and credit card fraud.

Twenty-seven of the men charged are tied to the so-called Shulaya Enterprise, an organized crime group operating under the direction Razhden Shulaya and his alleged co-boss Zurab Dzhanashvili, the feds said.

In the three indictments and one complaint that were unsealed, some of the crimes are the stuff of classic mobster movies: a poker house in Brighton Beach, buying and selling cases of purported illegal cigarettes and selling stolen jewelry. Five people are still at large, the Justice Department said.

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According to the New York Times, the court documents show that investigators collaborated with paid informers.

Two others charged are accused of conspiring to commit murder for hire.

If convicted, some defendants could face up to 40 years in prison, according to the complaint.

Those taken into custody are expected to go before a judge later Wednesday, according to a source.

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