Makena's Empire: Nightmare in Prisons Continues
In April 2012, Vladimir Moscalciuc, alias Makena, was convicted to 19 years of imprisonment, but it did not put an end to the empire he organized, the empire that extended throughout the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, and some EU countries.
When Moscalciuc and ten of his subordinates were convicted, the prosecutors announced that the group was dismantled. However, nothing has changed. Makena has the same authority he used to have, blackmail in prisons continues, only that the group became more cautious and vindictive.
After his conviction in 2012, Makena and his cronies were filed new charges for extortion, maltreatment of detainees, in one case resulting in the death of a convicted, swindle and robberies. Moscalciuc strengthens his empire, attracting loyal people on his side, ready to sacrifice their lives for him.
The Central District Court of Chisinau initiated a new criminal case against Vladimir Moscalciuc, who is accused of creating and leading a criminal organization, and organized blackmail. Simultaneously, Moscalciuc is accused of a criminal case for mistreatment of a detainee, resulting in his death, as well as in another case, investigated by the Anti-Corruption Prosecution for swindling.
Photo: Moskalchuk in the hearing room of the court of the Center
Sources in the penitentiary institutions claim that, in fact, Makena group is a trump card in the dispute between the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Department of Penitentiary Institutions, which has lasted for several years. Other sources say that in this case, the Prosecution Office would try to justify the funds provided to annihilate organized crime, funds that would have come largely in the pockets of heads of the Public Prosecution.
Makena group arose in 2002, when Vladimir Moscalciuc was arrested and in 2003 sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment for having committed a robbery in especially large amounts. Vladimir Moscalciuc is the third Moldovan that has been crowned as a thief in law. Born on 15 May 1967, Moscalciuc was first sentenced to five years for a theft in 1992. In 1994, he was sentenced to 2 years of imprisonment for having committed a robbery.
The new organization was developing in a fertile soil. One of the first actions of the newly elected president of Moldova, Vladimir Voronin, had been dismantling organized crime. The thief in law, Petru Galca, was sentenced to life imprisonment. Similarly, many other criminal authorities were condemned, while others took exile after the Minister of Internal Affairs, by order of President Voronin, started a real hunt for criminals.
On the other hand, in late 2000s, several criminal leaders were killed in a war between criminal gangs for spheres of influence. The criminal authorities Valeri Rotari, aka Zelionii, and the thief in law, Evgeni Grishchenko, aka Jeka, were among the victims of this war.
Thus, organized crime in Moldova went to pieces. Then, Vladimir Moscalciuc appeared. At the age of 33, he was well acquainted with the criminal world. Endowed by nature with a tough character, perseverance and organizational skills, he managed to establish a criminal organization, which became one of the most powerful and feared organization that existed in the history of Moldova. Under the leadership of Makena, organized crime in Moldova rose from ashes, but already more powerful and bloody, with a higher level of organization.
Makena group extended its tentacles to all prisons in Moldova and even to some from abroad, organizing crimes outside prisons, according to geographical areas, and extended away from the borders of the Republic of Moldova. The organization, headed by Vladimir Moscalciuc, managed, in a record time, to control even prison administration and determine to collaborate people, holding responsible positions in state institutions and the government.
Makena’s trustees are generals Lilian Chirica, alias Lilic, a former trader of women’s underwear at the Central Market in Chisinau, who got in prison for swindling and Dumitru Morozan, aka Dima Bolisoi. Chirica is assigned consigliere on prison matters, while Morozan, consigliere on the entire country, assigned the management of organized crime at liberty and abroad relations.
Chirica, who was originally the consigliere at Pruncul prison, was in charge of criminal groups from all the prisons, though each had a leader approved by Moscalciuc. Thus, the criminal group in Prison No. 1 in Taraclia was initially led by Piotr Chihaial, aka Peta, then by Andrei Varlan, aka Parliament. Nedelco Iulian, aka Iulic, is the criminal leader in Prison No. 3 in Leova, in Prison No. 5 in Cahul - Anatol Calestru, aka Calios, in Prison No. 11 in Balti - Vitalie Platon, alias Said and Ion Olaras, alias Medvedi, in Prison No. 6 in Soroca - Curbanismail Ismailov, alias Curban, in Prison No. 17 in Rezina – Pavel Proca, in Prison No. 4 in Cricova - Jordan Aureliu, in Prison No. 15 in Cricova -, Pomirleanu Dumitru, in Prison No. 9 Pruncu - Iurie Muhametov, aka Stoica. In Pruncul Prison No. 16, the criminal organization was initially led by Chirica. In that prison, Moscalciuc and Chirica met. Subsequently, the management of organized crime in this prison is taken over by Vitalie Cojan, alias Repa, who in his turn is substituted by Eugen Croitor. Criminal leaders are in continuous change in the investigation ward in Chisinau, depending on who of them is in this prison. Victor Melnicov, alias Vicu, was the first consigliere Makena appointed in Prison No. 13, later, he was succeeded by Ion Ciobanu, aka Boxer, then by Efremenco Andrei, aka Belii.
All these leaders of the criminal groups have subordinated cells, who submit to the same leader.
Dumitru Morozan was Makena's trustee at liberty, until he was taken into custody. Although he was in detention, he continued to direct the activities of criminal organizations outside the prison. Morozan’s subordinates are Ceban Sergiu, alias Kitaet, consigliere of the Southern region of Moldova, Vasile Gavriliuc, alias Boxer, consigliere of the North Moldova, Postica Alexandru, consigliere of Transnistria. Gregorie Chilaru, aka Dorca, heads the criminal group in Chisinau. He has in his subordination a supervisor underboss in every sector of the capital. Buzulan Mihal, head of criminal organizations in Italy, Belgium, Germany, is also subordinated to Morozan.
Dumitru Morozan controls and treasury of Makena’s organization, the so-called obseak. Serghei Zafronski, alias Vasea, and Alexei Grajdan, alias Liosa, who directly obey Morozan and Moscalciuc are in charge of accumulation of funds and other assets for obseak.
How money from inmates were extorted
Former detainees say that Makena has great authority among convicts. They all are trembling with fear before him, and some even bow to him. For others Moscalciuc is a holy man. Inmates in all prisons of Moldova celebrate 15 May. It is Moscalciuc’s birthday. The lawyer of a detainee of Prison 13 in Chisinau, said that he could not talk to his client on 16 May 2016 because he was drunk: "I went this morning at 9:30 to talk to him. He could not stand up. He said he had drunk all night along with other prisoners for Vova Makena’s birthday, "the defender told us revolted.
Former inmates and prison officers claim that Makena ventures disorders and many detainees are maltreated. There are broken ribs, brain concussions. In fact, it is he who directly deals with maltreatment, but its executors.
Makena's group has drawn up various schemes to extort money from prisoners and their relatives. These amounts start at a hundred dollars. The safest method is to play cards. Prisoners are lured, and some even forced to play cards for money. If they lose, they are forced to pay. Refusal to pay the gambling debt can cost lives, as it was in the case of Gobjila Vasile, who died in Pruncul Prison No.9 for a debt of 2,000 lei. Gobjila was undergoing treatment at the prison hospital Physio-pneumology section. He gambled away three thousand lei. His relatives paid a thousand lei. The prisoner addressed the head of the prison security and asked for protection, being put in a separate cell. Vitalie Moga, assigned by Makena supervisor (underboss) of the section of Physio-pneumology, together with the convict Drugaliov, broke into Gobjila’s cell, while the guard left the post for a lunch break, and beat him cruelly. Prison doctors did not bother to treat Gobjila, having diagnosed him with mild brain concussion. Gobjila died two days after the incident from a punctured lung.
Makena’s representatives invent any pretext, no matter how trivial, to extort money. The case of Alexander Panarin, a specialist in mobile repair is very relevant here. While he was under preventive arrest in Prison No. 13, a member of Makena group, Valentin Raducan, alias Valico, asked him to repair two mobile phones. Meanwhile, Valico’s people informed the guards that Panarin had two phones on him, the guards searched his cell and confiscated the two defective devices. After that, Panarin was blackmailed and forced to pay a hundred euros.
In another case, during a search, the guards found on a detainee of Pruncul Prison a packet of cannabis. After this, Makena group members blackmailed and abused him requiring paying 200 euros for allegedly giving a clue that prisoners hide drugs.
Most often, the money is collected from the families of prisoners. They send money through third parties; intermediaries are taxi drivers. Money transfer process takes two to three days until it reaches the person responsible for common fund.
Businesses at large
In April 2016, the Public Prosecutor’s Office announced about a criminal group that worked in the municipality of Chisinau, being directed from detention by Vladimir Moscalciuc. The group activated in accordance with a fine-tuned scheme, in collaboration with some state officials. The latter had the mission to identify potential victims, who were deprived of their homes and later tortured, killed or driven to suicide.
The apartments were written in the name of some homeless people, pledged to the bank and subsequently put up for sale. Being behind the bars, Makena coordinated the scheme through Rustam Rahimov, aka Enemy.
The starting point of the scheme was Mihail Cojocaru, Head of privatization department of Chisinau municipality. He provided information to Rahimov about non-privatized apartments, inhabited by elderly and lonely people. These apartments were later privatized in the names of other members of the group. To be on the sake side, Rahimov also received information from Alexey Balan, employee of the architecture and urbanism department of Chisinau municipality, who provided him with information from the database of Cadaster State Enterprise and other data about the property.
Andrey Antonov was the next person in the scheme. He was in charge of finding and recruiting homeless people. The apartments were recorded into their names and subsequently pledged to the bank.
Ownership documents were processed by the notary public Lidia Snegur, who besides falsifying powers of attorney for the group members, executed other fraudulent documents on real estate transactions, having direct links with the group leader. The notary public Galina Ceban did the same.
There was a man in the group who did the dirty job. It is Topa Denis, a drug addict and Rahimov’s trusted person. The apartments, recorded in the name of vagabonds, were fraudulently evaluated by Melentii Anton, real estate appraiser.
Iurie Driga, engaged in the commercial bank Eximbank JSC was responsible for recording fictitious loans in the names of the homeless, putting in pledge real estates, illegally alienated from victims.
Oleg Guzun and Alexandru Malcus, people trusted by Makena, were responsible for collecting money for common fund.
Makena's external relations
Vladimir Moscalciuc sends some money, to the common fund in Moscow to have the support of criminals with greater authority. Field services in Chisinau documented several meetings of Moscalciuc’s people with abroad criminal authorities. In the period of 10 - 13 April 2012, Roland Gheghechkori, aka Sleapa, a thief in law, and another thief in law Zarandya, aka Beso, visited Chisinau. They were met at the airport in Chisinau and throughout their stay accompanied by no one other than Dumitru Morozan, Moscalciuc’s consigliere for Moldova.
On 07.02.2012, Vladimir Moscalciuc is visited in prison no. 13 by an international criminal leader, known as Haholi. The meeting takes place with the consent of prison management and of the Department of Penitentiary Institutions. According to sources in Prison No. 13, the two criminals discussed how to divide the spheres of influence of the criminal world in Moldova and abroad.
Photocopy of Hohol's passport
Photo: Excerpt from the Moskalchuk's visit card
In 2013, 27 Makena clan members were sentenced to a total of 93 years of imprisonment and penalties of over 135,000 euros by the tribunal in Namur, Belgium. The interlopers were convicted because they obtained fake documents and license plates, vehicles and tools for robberies, organized meetings of those "in charge of thieves" and divided the spoils between the organization members. They systematically reported to Vladimir Moscalciuc. According to Belgian prosecutors, the 27 convicts stole valuables from homes, stole cars and guided various criminals. Some of the loot was sold to Poles. 20 % of the stolen goods reached the accounts of Makena’s organization and the remaining funds were transferred to accounts of their families to purchase properties. One of the criminal clan members owned a covert transport company, based in Moldova, through which he sent his colleagues to Belgium and transported the stolen loot.
Actually, only three of the 27 criminals were present at the trial, the rest were announced wanted.
Collaboration with prison officers
To implement their schemes, Makena group drew on their side more prison officers, including from prison administration. Some guards were bribed, others were threatened with physical punishment, including to their family members, or that they will set fire to their homes.
Namely, guards help Moscalciuc get prohibited items like phones, laptops, drugs, alcohol. Makena enjoys the opportunity to move through the prison, from one cell to another, which is prohibited by prison Regulations.
In the case of Gobjila’s murder, Drugaliov and Moga had the opportunity to leave their cell and then use an improvised key to open the cell of the victim, which makes us believe that prison officers were also involved in this murder.
In 2013, prosecutors initiated 15 criminal cases against prison officers for collaboration with Makena group. Most of them are pending in the courts. The most significant is the case of the former Deputy Head of the Department of Penitentiary Institutions, Petru Birca.
Photo: Petru Birca
During his leadership, he managed to buy a sumptuous house in Telecenter district of Chisinau. The house was purchased from Larisa Nefiodkina, Valeri Rotari, alias Zelionii’s, widow.
Intimidated witnesses and failure of witness protection program
Makena's and his people’s conviction was possible due to complaints and statements, made in court by some prisoners. All of them were included in the witness protection program.
To make them testify in court, prosecutors had made unrealizable promises, such as early release, serving the sentence abroad, in a prison in the Netherlands. It is clear that prosecutors have not kept their promises. The only thing, guaranteed by the state to these prisoners, was their transfer to the hospital ward of the Prison No.13. They say that threats against them continue and their lives are in danger. "How can you sleep soundly, Mr. Gropa, when you know that some poor convicts, who believed in your promises and cooperated with the investigation, are in danger of death?", Mihail Mocanu, one of the prisoners who made statements against Makena, asks the prosecutor Maxim Gropa in a letter.
Witnesses do not want to testify in court against Makena any more. Ecaterina Palanciuc, magistrate of Central District Court of Chisinau, who is in charge of Makena’s case, postponed the examination from one date to another, due to lack of witnesses.
The inmate Anatol Svinarciuc, who is serving his sentence in the penitentiary of Soroca, said in court that he knows nothing, there is no criminal organization in prison, he is sure no one collects money from prisoners, and Vladimir Moscalciuc is a simple convict. Being asked by the prosecutor Gopa why his statements in court do not correspond with the statements made during the investigation, Svinarciuc said he had not made any statements and that most likely prosecutors have forged his signature.
Vladimir Moscalciuc: "The court will figure it out!"
Vladimir Moscalciuc refused to make statements to the press: "the court will figure it out!"
Makena's lawyers also refrain from comment, noting that their client does not want this. Prosecutors claim that Moscalciuc refuses to make statements to the media because the status of a thief in law does not allow this.
Meanwhile, Vladimir Moscalciuc lodged a complaint to European Court of Human Rights of alleged inhuman conditions of detention and persecution from the authorities.
Since early February, there has been a preventive operation of the National Police of Ukraine in cooperation with the border and migration services called ‘Migrant’. Its aim is to identify and expel thieves in law and foreign crime lords out of the country.