‘Cocaine Empire’ of Federal Drug Control Service
It took investigators and jury two and three years respectively to finish an investigation into drug trafficking from Uruguay. The trial was tedious and harsh. Aleksandr Bolshakov, the main defendant, a European kickboxing champion, and a former Service employee, finally ended up with a 22-year custodial sentence. However, the mastermind behind the international drug trafficking scheme was not prosecuted. He is reportedly also employed in law enforcement.
Hello from Montevideo
Uruguay is a stable socialist country with low crime rates, sophisticated banking system, and favorable investment climate. The Uruguayan President is the poorest citizen; he redirects his salary to the poor and lives at a simple farm. Uruguay is also the second country in the world where it is legal to buy and smoke marijuana. The state decided to officially profit off of recreational drugs instead of letting drug lords have the money. However, the country still has the same issues with hard drugs as the rest of the world, although its discontent does not stand in the way of being the world’s largest transit point for the drug traffic from the Central America, even though the Uruguayan government is not happy about this at all.
Aleksandr Bolshakov believes he has been framed
The recent scandal surrounding the Russian embassy and suitcases packed with cocaine drew attention of the Uruguayan government to the issue once again. They began cracking down on drug traffickers, ambushing them at their drug routes. It was due to Uruguayan police believing that the country had been the transit point for large batches of drugs shipped from Argentina to Russia.
Uruguayan police prevented almost 400 kilos of cocaine from entering the European market. The police discovered 12 suitcases with drugs worth about €50 million at a building on the territory of the Russian embassy in Argentina. Moreover, the police arrested two people associated with the drugs, including a Russian entrepreneur who had immigrated to Argentina and an Argentinian police officer.
The story of Bolshakov’s arrest also began in Uruguay. Customs officers discovered odd packages with jeans at the Pulkovo airport in June 2014. They examined it and discovered 11 kilos of pure unadulterated South American cocaine. The drugs belonged to one Stanislav Brekhov on his way from Montevideo to St. Petersburg through Frankfurt. The police interrogated him and learned about Bolshakov. The police arrested him and three of his accomplices.
Detention of ex-Federal Drug Control Service employee
The police arrested Aleksandr Bolshakov, Aleksey Anufriev, and Evgeny Gilani on July 30, 2014, according to the ICR Main Office of Investigations in St. Petersburg. The police proceeded with searches and found 60 kilos of hashish, about 200 liters of psychoactive gamma-Butyrolactone, 4 kilos of an amphetamine mixture, more than 365 grams of methamphetamine, 248.1 grams of cocaine, and more than 11 kilos of liquid drug precursor.
The police confiscated the bulk of the drugs. The drug traffickers would rent several small storage areas in the Pogost village, Leningrad region. The police found blocks of hashish and canisters with gamma-Butyrolactone there.
Video: St. Petersburg: 72 kg of drugs seized from a gang led by kickboxer champion, who used to work in the Federal Drug Control Service
Tulips with hashish
The police eventually discovered that the drug traffickers would sell at the Leningrad region drug market as well, selling some 300 kilos of drugs monthly. Anufrief and Gilani would store and package drugs and run marijuana farms, according to investigators. They had a large-scale marijuana production with correct lighting, hydroponics, and fertilizers. They were only interested in wholesale. They ingeniously disguised their production as a tulips farm legally owned by Bolshakov’s friend’s wife. However, the police arrested them before they managed to grow their illegal business.
The police believes Bolshakov was the mastermind behind the scheme. He used his law enforcement experience to organize it and establish relationships with several large South American and European suppliers exporting drugs to Russia.
Bolshakov served in the Service from 2006 to 2010. He worked at the Kirovsky district police station. He had an uneventful career; the only thing worth mentioning are his athletic feats. He resigned voluntarily. By the age of 32, he was a two times European kickboxing champion. The police found a Saiga carbine modified to use the AKSU assault rifle ammunition, AKSU assault rifle ammunition, and ammunition for the Makarov pistol when searching his house.
His accessories, 31-year-old Aleksey Anufrief and 36-year-old Evgeny Gilani, are also martial artists. However, they do not have any titles. The police believes they were the backbone of the illegal enterprise. After having resigned, Bolshakov told his friends he was going to do business. Many believed that was the case; they did not know what kind of business it was.
One of Aleksandr Bolshakov's accomplices
Bolshakov surrounded himself with luxury, buying brand clothing and eating out at expensive restaurants. He had a fleet of expensive cars (BMW, Mercedes, Range Rove, and Hammer) and a jet ski. He supported his ex-wife and child. The ex-wife owned several apartments and a couple of mansions. It is worth mentioning his family got the taste of such a lifestyle right after his resignation. Doing sports did not pay as well.
Not without my cut
The Police arrested Bolshakov and his henchmen Anufrief and Gilani and locked them up in jail. They were charged with violation of article 229.1, part 4, items ‘a’ and ‘b’ (drug trafficking) of the Russian Criminal Code. Bolshakov pleaded not guilty right away and keeps insisting he had been set up even after having being convicted by jury. The police believes it is a trick and it will be hard to make him confess; the scheme was well organized. The convicts did not employ special drug couriers and shipped drugs using regular shipping companies instead. Such shipping companies had no idea they shipped hashish and other drugs instead of special soil for tulips.
Aleksandr Bolshakov is a European champion in kickboxing
The police had to work for years to prove the defendants’ guilt. The case file was referred to the St. Petersburg City Court only in May 2016, two years after the investigation was launched. Bolshakov demanded he be judged by jury; everything was ready only by September. The trial began in mid-September and lasted until May 2018, when Bolshakov was convicted. It is worth mentioning that Bolshakov was calm and sometime aggressive during the trial; he told the jury he did not need their pity since he was not guilty. Bolshakov was sentenced to 22 years in high-security prison. His accomplices Anufrief, Gilani, and Brekhov were given 22-, 20-, and 17-year custodial sentences respectively.
Former Federal Drug Control Service employee got a long sentence
The jury dismissed two counts of drug sale; prosecutors managed to prove only drug trafficking. Bolshakov believes he was set up. However, he did not say whom he suspects. People in the know speculated that investigators may have exaggerated Bolshakov’s role, saying one former law enforcement officer could not possibly bring such an elaborate international scheme to fruition. Some people speculated that the “MIA does not allow using its channels unless they have their cut,” saying that Bolshakov got greedy and withheld money from them. They also believe that there are other people who were involved in the scheme; these people are still at large.
Bolshakov’s attorney keeps pushing the same narrative. He was quite surprised when it was revealed during the trial that the main evidence – a box of cocaine – had disappeared; it has never been presented during the trial.
Moreover, the attorney claimed there is a certain person mentioned during the trial whose is known to both Russian and foreign police. He claimed he is the real mastermind behind the scheme and that the police simply did not manage to get him.
Investigators partially confirmed this, saying they launched another investigation as a spinoff of the one against Bolshakov
The convicts are going to appeal the decision. People in the know suggest that the scheme as described by investigators is incomplete and that Bolshakov is going to cooperate with investigators to get him out of trouble; one can profit from drug trafficking, but once they make a mistake – it means there is enough money in the business to hire a hitman. This is cocaine lords’ rule, and it is enforced throughout the world, unlike the criminal law.
Every big Russian city has ‘untouchable' people who are beyond the reach of the law enforcement authorities – generals, judges, mayors, etc. Despite overwhelming evidence sufficient to prosecute them, such persons cannot be busted without authorization from the federal center. There is also another type of corrupt officials: their deeds are well-known – but these people are so generous, hospitable, and understanding that no one is willing to arrest them.