By David Amoruso
Posted in 2001
Sergei Mikhailov is considered one of the most powerful Russian mobsters. He is the boss of the Moscow based Solntsevskaya organization, the biggest in Russia and probably the world, counting 5.000 members. Mikhailov's power reaches from Moscow and Geneve to Miami and the Middle East.
Sergei Anatoliavic Mikhailov was born in February 7, 1958 in Moscow, Russia. He grew up in an atmosphere where doing crime wasn't considered a bad thing. Especially when the real criminals were the cops and politicians who murdered and tortured anyone who dared sing a different tune than the one approved by the communist government. Mikhailov, or Mikhas as he was called, didn't dive into a life of crime right away, first he worked as a waiter in several Moscow restaurants. But the pay wasn't as good as it could be and so pretty soon Mikhailov turned to crime full time.
After some time without being caught his luck ran out. In 1984, at the age of 26, Mikhailov was charged with theft and fraud and sentenced to 6 months in prison, or as the Russians call their hell: Gulag. There, Mikhailov made some good contacts with other Russian gangsters, including members of the Vor v Zakone, the Russian Mafia. The contacts made in prison would serve Mikhailov well.
When he got out, Mikhailov was a hardened criminal with contacts and a feared reputation. He was ready to begin his rise to power. Once out he began his own organization, he named it after a neighborhood in Moscow: The Solntsevskaya organization. In the beginning its main activities were: extortion, counterfeiting, drug trafficking and blackmail. Ppretty soon the group got into trouble with other crews working the same area. Several wars were fought and every time Mikhailov and his Solsnetskaya organization came out on top. With his rivals out of the way Mikhailov had total control and his organization soon expanded into arms dealing, infiltration of legitimate businesses and money laundering. Pretty soon the Solsnetskaya organization was the biggest, most organized, most powerful and most feared criminal organization in Moscow and Russia. The money was rolling in and Mikhailov's power was enormous.
When Mikhailov was arrested in 1989 on extortion charges he served 18 months in a Russian detention center awaiting his trial. When the trial finally the main witness refused to testifie, Mikhas walked that same day and continued to expand his criminal empire. And it would expand, the Soviet Union was about to fall and the Russian Mafia would get a whole new playing field.
When the Soviet Union collapsed and the Iron Curtain fell Russia was in total chaos. And where there's chaos there is an opportunity. Mikhailov and the other Russian Mafia bosses took advantage of the confusion in the Russian government and gained control of politicians and gevernment resources. With the government and the Iron Regime knock out there was nothing left to stop the Russian Mafia from totally taking over what the government left behind. Pretty soon Mikhailov's Organization owned banks, casino's, car dealerships, even the local airport (The Vnoekovo Airport). Operating from their new headquarters, a stylish building along the Leninsky Prospekt, Mikhailov's Organization controlled prostitution, gambling and weapons dealing. Mikhailov had taken control of Russia and now felt it was time to expand, the Western world was waiting and Mikhailov got himself and his Organization ready to go international.
Combat Brigades at work in MoscowIn 1994 while Mikhailov sent his soldiers all over the world to set up base he himself decided to go to Israel. Israel is a popular residence among Russian mobsters because it has a certain rule: Jews from all over the world may return to Israel and can not be refused even if they are on the run from the law. Because of this law many Jewish Russian mobsters decide to live in Israel, and many non Jewish Russians decide to get a fake passport, one of them: Sergei Mikhailov. While living in Israel Mikhailov watched his empire expand. His Organization was now active all over the world. He did business with other criminal organizations including the Colombian Cartels and Italian Mafia's both the US Italian as the Italian and Sicilian. Mikhailov's power was enormous, he had hit teams (called combat brigades) on standby in Miami. Whenever somebody had to be whacked Mikhailov flew his professional hitteam to the place where the hit took place, this could be in Russia or somewhere in Europe, the team took care of the hit and then flew back to Miami to wait for a new assignment. In the meantime they ran some U.S. based operations for the Organization in New York, Los Angeles and Houston.
In 1995 Mikhailov decided to move to Switzerland. In Switzerland Mikhailov started building up a web of bank accounts and companies with respectable directors. According to Swiss court documents Russian mobsters had laundered $60 billion dollars through Swiss banks. Mikhailov was doing well and showed it, he had put his kids in a good private school and bought a castle near Geneva, drove a beautiful Rolls Royce and he spent about $15.000 dollars a month on clothing. Life was good, until Swiss authorities decided to put some pressure on the Russian mobsters who were moving to Switzerland. In October 1996 Mikhailov was arrested and charged with being boss of a criminal organization using false documents and breaking a Swiss law restricting foreigners from buying property. In his mansion police found Israeli Military bugging equipment with this bugging equipment Mikhailov was able to listen in on secret Swiss police radio transmissions. The police also found loads of documents with names of bogus companies on it, used for laundering money from drugs and weapon sales. Detectives also found out that Mikhailov invested millions of his white money in the U.S.. He had bought nightclubs in New York and Los Angeles. Furthermore he bought a car dealership in Houston. Mikhailov denied he was a criminal and said he was just a "simple businessman". The Swiss authorities didn't buy it and locked him in a prison to await his faith. During the period between his lock up and the trial a lot of things would happen all over the world.
Mikhailov was considered a threat to society and so he was held in a Swiss prison awaiting his trial. While the Swiss prosecutors were gathering evidence Mikhailov made sure there wasn't much evidence left. Several people who had done business with Mikhailov were found dead. In Holland a father and his son were murdered, the father was stabbed in his eye and bled to death. Another man in Amsterdam was shot to death. Short there after the head of the Moscow police department fled to Switzerland. He claimed he was threatened by some of Mikhailov's men. Even the media was threatened, a Belgian journalist who wrote several columns about Mikhailov was warned by the local police that there was a contract on his life. Eventualy the police stopped the plot when they arrested a corrupt Belgian policeman who was about to take out the hit. Finally after 2 years the trial started, November 30, 1998 was set and 80 witnesses wearing bulletproof vests would come in and testifie. If Mikhailov was convicted he faced up to 7 years in prison.
The trial turned out to be a major succes for Mikhailov and a major blow to the Swiss authorities. Despite all the evidence found at Mikhailov's home and around 80 witnesses the Swiss prosecutors could not convict Mikhailov. The big obstacle was the Russian government. The Russians were asked to give certain documents that would show that Mikhailov was the head of a criminal empire, they refused. As a result Mikhailov was found not guilty on the most serious charges and found guilty on a minor charge for which he wasn't sentced since he already had served 2 years awaiting his trial. Mikhailov immediately thanked the jury, crying: "My heart is full of gratitude...I love you, I love you, I love you." Later, in a statement, he added: "You have shown to the whole world that democracy, law and justice exists in this country." And he wasn't finished after being set free in DEcember of 1998 Mikhailov went back to Russia and sued canton Geneva for his lost income in the 2 years he had spent in prison awaiting his trial, he won......In July, 1999 a Geneva court awarded Mikhailov the full amount he had claimed, although the cantonal authorities appealed against the decision.
Mikhailov leads his criminal empire that stretches from Asia to Canada back to Moscow and Western Europe. There is no place on this world which is safe for his Organization. He continues to make billions of dollars and expands his power as we speak. Sergei Mikhailov is one of the most dangerous Russian gangsters of the moment and what's even worse: He's living in freedom.
- Back to the Russian Mafia section on Gangsters Inc.
- Check out the latest news on organized crime and the Mafia at our news section
- Check out our social media channels
- About Gangsters Inc.
Copyright © Gangsters Inc.