Red Mafiya: From Russia W/ No Love

A word about Red Mafiya: How the Russian Mob Has Invaded America by the late Robert I. Friedman.

Last year I became interested in learning more about the Mafiya after Mike Cutler, a former INS agent, told a small group of us in Arlington, Virginia that the most notorious immigrant gangsters are the Russians.


After reading Friedman's book, I better understand why Mike made that statement. The intro was chilling enough: "The Russians didn't come to enjoy the American Dream. They came here to steal it."

I would now add, "By any means necessary."

Friedman, who was the expert on the subject of Russian mobsters in the U.S. and who received a handwritten death threat in a Hallmark greeting card from godfather Vyacheslav Ivankov, describes how casually and frequently these thugs (who can be found from Miami to Brighton Beach to Las Vegas to the suburbs of Denver) resort to barbaric bloodshed. The sophistication and breadth of their criminal enterprises - from heroin to missiles to the skin trade - is astounding. To boot, the Mafiya has also infiltrated American brokerage firms and, believe it or not, the National Hockey League.

Unlike La Cosa Nostra, the Russians don't spare the women and the children, either.

So, how did the United States come to be a dumping ground for these lowlifes and felons?

Friedman offers one telling clue: our lame immigration policies.

He writes," In 1993 [after the Soviet Union collapsed], a high-ranking Russian immigration official in Moscow told U.S investigators that there were five million dangerous criminals in the former U.S.S.R. who would be allowed to immigrate to the West. It's nearly impossible for the State Department to weed out these undesireables because the former states of the Eastern bloc seldom make available the would-be émigrés criminal record."

If you want a further taste of Robert I. Friedman's writing, go here. It's not a great book, because an exposition of crude, cruel people depresses (as opposed to elevates), but it's certainly an informative and credible work.

Sidebar: This 1996 article by William Norman Grigg discusses how the Clinton Administration financed organized crime in Russia via foreign aid.

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