Untold Russian Mafia Wars: Mobsters Battle for Russia's Car Capital Tolyatti

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In the 1980s, as the Soviet empire crumbled, organized criminals eyed up the sprawling VAZ automobile plant in the city of Tolyatti, “Russia’s Detroit.” When it collapsed all hell broke loose. Old-school “thimble kings” battled it out with bodybuilding skinheads, Chechen paramilitaries and the Volgas, partying hotheads who’d become a fearsome mob, for supremacy over one of Russia’s most fabled companies. It’d take hundreds of deaths and Kremlin SWAT teams to bring the bloodshed to an end.

A story that we don’t think has been reported in English before, the Tolyatti Car Gang Wars are one of Russian crime’s bloodiest episodes. And given the terrible things they’re doing now, that says a lot.

Underworld is a podcast about organized crime around the world, by reporters Danny Gold and Sean Williams. From Balkan warlords to Brooklyn wiseguys, we’ll expose the barely-visible networks that affect everyone’s lives. Bringing our experience hunting some of the world’s most dangerous people, we’ll show how gangs fought to the top of their food chains - and how some got cut down to size.

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