New rails for Tambov drug trafficking 

New rails for Tambov drug trafficking
Photo: The CrimeRussia

In the dashing 90s, the criminal group of the “night governor” Vladimir Barsukov-Kumarin controlled the largest cocaine supply channel from Colombia, passing through the port of Lomonosov. Many years have passed since then, and it seemed that large traffic had long flowed into other "authoritative" hands. Recently it became known that a certain Yevgeny Skigin with his company Konopleks was engaged in the production of marijuana for industrial purposes. The nuance of this business is that Yevgeny Skigin is the son of Dmitry Skigin, a longtime business partner of the Tambovsky OCG members.

Colombian rivers along the Neva canals

Back in the early 2000s, St. Petersburg firmly took first place in the number of crimes related to drug trafficking. For some time, the cultural capital in this matter even overtook the Caucasian republics. The focus was simple – the city has numerous "windows to Europe," which, after three hundred years, have become convenient crossroads of ramified drug routes. In the late 90s, the port of the city of Lomonosov became an important transit point for drug dealers. As the media subsequently wrote, hundreds or even thousands of tons of cargo were imported and exported through the port daily without any clearance. Neither customs, nor border guards, nor counterintelligence checked these goods. In St. Petersburg, cocaine could be obtained as easily as buying washing powder in a store. The potion was of high quality, straight from Colombia, and then no one had thought of it to "carry on" with deadly additives. There were no gasket companies in this scheme either. After all, the Lomonosov port belonged to the Russkoye Video company, which was controlled by the gangland businessmen Vladimir Kumarin and Mikhail Mirilashvili on shares

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Mikhail Mirilashvili

In the 90s, the Tambovsky OCG members gave a kilogram of cocaine to dealers at $60,000 per shipment. Trade went briskly, fortunately, the hands of the St. Petersburg police did not reach such large deliveries. The criminal business would have flourished further if it were not for the scandalous story of Interpol and stewed banks. Almost all security officials remember this story, because it was extremely revealing and glorified St. Petersburg throughout the world as a paradise for drug cartels.

In February 1993, a container loaded with Colombian stew was detained near Vyborg. The weight of cocaine hidden in cans was 1,092 kilograms. The participants in the lower-level operation, citizens of Russia, Colombia and Israel, were arrested, but the security forces did not reach the organizers of the delivery. The drug, of course, was not intended for Russia. The “stewed meat” was supposed to be “received” in Germany, but the brisk employees of Interpol tracked the delivery and handed over the batch to Russian colleagues. But what is interesting is not so much the fact of putting cocaine in jars of stew, but the fate of the drug. To begin with, of course, the cargo was arrested and sent for safekeeping. But no matter how many colleagues from Interpol wrote, so that the arrested goods would be returned to them as part of their operation, nothing happened. For two years, the cargo landed in warehouses, and then it was sent for "examination in Moscow", where its traces were safely lost. According to sources, the drug was successfully sold not without the mediation of high-ranking representatives of law enforcement agencies. The history is still silent about who contributed to the implementation. However, the fact that cocaine was intended for the Tambovskaya organized crime group is, in general, not a secret to anyone. 

Business way

As is known, back in the mid-90s, the Tambovsky OCG members began to actively legalize capital acquired by criminal means. This was facilitated by the brothers Sergey and Vyacheslav Shevchenko, who became deputies of the State Duma from the LDPR, and Viktor Novoselov, speaker of the Legislative Assembly. “Fighters” were re-qualified as security guards, having created several private security companies. Over the next few years, the Tambovsky OCG members monopolized the entire fuel and energy business of St. Petersburg by purchasing all the St. Petersburg branches of Surgutneftegaz. The captured enterprises were merged into the Petersburg Fuel Company. 

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Vyacheslav Shevchenko

Further, in 2005-2006, Barsukov-Kumarin was the organizer of raider seizures of the Smolninsky department store and a number of other restaurants, shops and organizations, for which he was subsequently prosecuted. The "Night Governor" was arrested in August 2007 for organizing an assassination attempt on co-owner of an oil terminal, Sergey Vasilyev, and since then has practically not been released from places of detention, as the investigation continues to bring new charges against him. 

Vladimir Barsukov-Kumarin

Vladimir Barsukov-Kumarin

Since then, the business of the group began to undergo major changes. At first there was a rather successful attempt to settle in Spain. But the Spanish crown did not want to put up with the dominance of the Russian mafia, fortunately, they have enough of their own "brothers." In 2013, Spanish law enforcement authorities arrested more than a dozen Russian emigrants who, in their opinion, were involved in organizing a criminal business. According to the investigation, since the mid-90s several closed joint stock companies have been created in Spain, which received huge funds from offshore companies in Cyprus, Panama and the Virgin Islands. Through their subsidiaries, these organizations laundered money, buying up land and mansions in Spain. The Spanish side explicitly names two main structures involved in illegal transactions: Inmobiliara Calvia 2001 and Inmobiliara Balear 2001.

Due to the persecution by the Spanish law enforcement agencies, business projects in Spain had to be curtailed. In 2017, information appeared that the Peter concern, which had once been directly related to the Tambovsky’s business interests in the historical center of St. Petersburg, was planning to reconstruct the famous Apraksin Dvor. Then it became known that the billionaire Oleg Deripaska was squeezed out of this project. A rumor immediately passed that Deripaska’s squeezing was not without the decisive efforts of gangland Tambovsky’s functionaries. 

The other day it became known that the Tambovsky group through Kirasa Invest, owned by businessman Andrey Koshkin, decided to invest 3 to 5 billion rubles ($45.8-76.4 mln) in the restoration project of the Stables Department, a historical cultural monument in the very center of St. Petersburg. Like it or not, but the love of the Tambovskaya organized crime group for investing in the historical center has been known for a long time. A few days later, official information appeared that the Petersburg Fuel Company (PTK) was sold to Rosneft. The main asset of Vladimir Kumarin-Barsukov, PTK, thus, went under the wing of the oil mastodon. Why did one need to sell such a confidently standing business, if not for the sake of even more attractive investments?

Official drug

Earlier in the media there was information that a certain Yevgeny Skigin, whose father was a co-owner of the St. Petersburg oil terminal, was investing in the cultivation of industrial hemp. Dmitry Skigin in St. Petersburg is a famous person. At one time, together with the notorious Ilya Traber, he worked on a project for the construction of an oil terminal. The latter was widely known to the business community under the nickname “Night Commandant of the Baltic Ports” – Vyborg, Primorsk and others. Now, as we know, Ilya Ilyich’s interests relate to the port of Ust-Lug, which his structures bought after a scandalous case in relation to Valery Izrailit.

Our
Note

Dmitry Eduardovich Skigin was known as the financier of the Tambovskaya organized criminal group and holder of its assets in Europe for many years. In the late 90s, he left for the Principality of Monaco, but he was deported from there in 2000. Skigin moved to France and ran the Tambov business from there. He also had a hand in Spanish investment. In 2003, he died abroad from a serious illness. Skigin was the owner of Sovex, the St. Petersburg oil terminal, and Sotrama, which was involved in the investigation of money laundering.

Dmitry Skigin can rightfully be proud of the inventiveness of his heirs. His son Mikhail has created a whole network of companies St. Petersburg Toll Road, which is engaged in the construction and operation of toll roads. In 2017, the governor signed an agreement with the company on the intention to build paid overpasses on the Sapsan and Allegro routes. It was reported that about 8 billion rubles ($122.2 mln) will be spent on this project, and after its implementation, the company will charge a fee agreed upon with the city authorities for the move. 

Skigin

Dmitry Skigin

The second son, Yevgeny, was engaged in nothing more than the cultivation of cannabis for industrial purposes. He has been involved in this project for three years now. Abroad, the cultivation of medical and technical hemp is considered a very promising business. According to the media, today Konopleks, founded by Skigin Jr. together with a partner, is the largest producer of raw materials with a sown area of ​​3,500 ha. This means that the company Skigin Jr. grows half of hemp in Russia. In the next few years, it is planned to invest 3 billion rubles ($45.8 mln) in business. 

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Sources say that it may well be funds from the sale of the same PTK. After all, this kind of business opens up absolutely wonderful prospects. Officially, the company's products are oils, both from hemp and from other crops. Last year, Konopleks began to produce hemp fibers, which are used in the manufacture of ropes, textiles, and paper. But this is the official side of the business. As you know, the erythroxylum coca bush does not grow in Russia. But hemp grows well, and on an industrial scale even better. 

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In the West, businessmen who are not afraid of risks have long appreciated the profit from investing in such a market. The illegal status of hemp around the world carries a lot of financial risks and problems with banks. But an entrepreneur with a status in Russia and a passport may well enter the game and even subsequently put up the shares of such a company on the stock exchange. Moreover, Konopleks should not have problems with cargo deliveries. After all, Mikhail Skigin has a network of toll roads. As you know, Mikhail shares his business empire with his younger brother Yevgeny. And the Skigins family owns assets through Cyprus offshore companies.

According to sources, to use such a business competently means to rebuild a financial empire, completely cleared of the criminal PTK fleet, which grew out of the blood and gangster chaos of the 90s, and which stands on the solid ground of large investments that will not cause too many questions.

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