With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the deregulation of international financial markets in 1989, governments and entrepreneurs alike became intoxicated by forecasts of limitless expansion into newly open markets. No one would foresee that the greatest success story to arise from these events would be the globalization of organized crime. Current estimates suggest that illegal trade accounts for nearly one-fifth of global GDP.
McMafia is a fearless, encompassing, wholly authoritative investigation of the now proven ability of organized crime worldwide to find and service markets driven by a seemingly insatiable demand for illegal wares. Whether discussing the Russian mafia, Colombian drug cartels, or Chinese labor smugglers, Misha Glenny makes clear how organized crime feeds off the poverty of the developing world, how it exploits new technology in the forms of cybercrime and identity theft, and how both global crime and terror are fueled by an identical source: the triumphant material affluence of the West.
To trace the disparate strands of this hydra-like story, Glenny talked to police, victims, politicians, and members of the global underworld in eastern Europe, North and South America, Africa, the Middle East, China, Japan, and India. The story of organized crime's phenomenal, often shocking growth is truly the central political story of our time. McMafia will change the way we look at the world.
Former BBC World correspondent Glenny (The Balkans, 1804-1999) presents a riveting and chilling journey through the myriad criminal syndicates flourishing in our increasingly globalized world, which make up as much as 20% of global GNP. Tracing the growth of organized crime-ranging from the burgeoning sex trade in volatile, postcommunist Bulgaria to elaborate Internet frauds in Nigeria-Glenny expertly combines interviews with key players, economic studies and sociological analysis. He argues that the chaos and political upheaval following the demise of communism in Eastern Europe, along with increasing demand in the West and the easy flow of money and people provided the perfect opportunity for organized crime to gain a foothold on the dark side of the globalizing economy. Glenny's achievement is in introducing readers to the less familiar aspects of global crime, from Kazakhstan's "caviar mafia" to the flourishing marijuana trade in British Columbia. Consequently, his interview subjects are equally varied: sex slaves in Tel Aviv, a co-conspirator in the deadly 1993 Mumbai bombings and top Washington policy makers share the pages. Readers yearning for a deeper understanding of the real-life, international counterparts to The Sopranos need look no further than Glenny's engrossing study. 16 pages of photos; maps. 100,000 announced first printing. (Apr. 10) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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April 06, 2008
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Excerpt from McMafia by Misha Glenny
It was the evening of April 30, 1994, and spring had settled on Woking in Surrey. The Barnesbury Estate is not quite middle management, but there is no shortage of aspiration in this part of southern England. And as dusk fell on Willow Way, a quiet road of terraced housing, cars had already been garaged and families sat down for dinner and Saturday night television.
At nine o'clock, a man emerged from his red Toyota outside number 31. Carrying a flat blue and white box, he strolled up to the front door and tapped on it. Inside Karen Reed, a thirty-three-year-old geophysicist who analyzed seismic data for a living, was enjoying a glass of white wine and a chat with a friend when they heard the man's muffled voice through the window. "Have you ordered a pizza?" he inquired. Karen opened the door, whereupon the pizza deliverer drew a .38 pistol and shot her several times in the head with calm deliberation. The killer then ran back to the car and drove off.
Karen Reed was not the intended victim that night. There was a reason for the murderer's confusion, however. His real target was Karen's sister, Alison Ponting, a producer at the BBC World Service, who was living with Karen at the time but happened to be out that evening. The killing had probably been carried out at the instigation of Djokar Dudayev, president of the Republic of Chechnya.
In 1986, Alison had married a chubby Armenian charmer, Gacic Ter-Oganisyan, whom she had met a couple of years earlier while studying Russian at a university. The marriage triggered a chain of improbable events that eight years later unleashed the whirlwind of death, imperialism, civil war, oil, gangsterism, and nationalist struggle known as the North Caucasus upon the sleepy commuter town of Woking.
Eighteen months before Karen's murder, two brothers, Ruslan and Nazarbeg Utsiev, had arrived in London as envoys of President Dudayev with a brief to arrange the printing of passports and banknotes for the new Chechen state. Ruslan was the volatile Dudayev's most trusted adviser and a hard-liner in the faction-ridden administration. His brother was a martial arts expert and general muscle-for-hire. Along with their public mandate to print the documents of the putative Chechen state, they had a number of other missions: to secure a $250 million loan from an American businessman for the modernization of Chechnya's huge oil refineries; to conclude negotiations with the German energy company Stinnes AG for the quick sale of Chechen oil at world prices; and as investigators later discovered, to purchase 2,000 ground-to-air Stinger missiles. To embark on such complex negotiations, the Chechen government representatives needed a skilled interpreter and fixer. Ruslan remembered that he was once interviewed by a BBC producer, Alison Ponting, and he turned to her for help. She suggested her husband, Ter-Oganisyan, hoping, perhaps, that he would find gainful employment.
During his time in London, Alison's Armenian husband had developed into the consummate chancer. Ter-Oganisyan was ducking and diving: smuggling, setting up fake companies for money laundering, and also doing menial work when his tentative criminal activities dried up. Initially the macho Caucasian trio hit it off, holding raucous parties to which a stream of call girls were invited. Not surprisingly, Alison was increasingly unhappy at the behavior of her husband and the two Chechens, as were the wealthy occupants of Bickenhall Mansions, the apartment block a stone's throw from Sherlock Holmes's reputed domicile at 221B Baker Street in central London where the Utsiev brothers had found a flat.
At some point, relations between the Armenian and the Chechens soured. Later, England's Crown Prosecution Service insisted that Ter-Oganisyan had discovered that the Stinger missiles were destined for Azerbaijan to be deployed in the war against his home country, Armenia. There was a second theory: that the Stingers were indeed bound for Chechnya and that the Utsiev brothers and Ter-Oganisyan fell out over money. What is certain is that Ter-Oganisyan alerted senior members of the Armenian KGB to the Utsiev brothers' activities and a couple of hitmen were dispatched from Los Angeles, the center of the Armenian diaspora in the United States, to London.