Bulgarian OC groups are involved in a wide range of activities, including drug trafficking, cigarette smuggling, human trafficking, prostitution, extortion (often under the cover of ostensible security and insurance companies) and the arms trade. They appear to have connections with the Russian Mafiya, Serbian Mafia, Macedonian Mafia and the Italian Cosa Nostra.
Krasimir "Big Margin" Marinov - boss of SIC
Nikolay "Small Margin" Marinov- boss of SIC
Mladen "Madzho" Mihalev - boss of SIC
General Lyuben Gocev- Allegedly connected with SIC
Vasil "The Skull" Bozhkov - Billionaire and gambling mogul. While there is no evidence of criminal activities, he has connections with SIC mob bosses and is suspected of calling upon their services.
Dead underworld figures
Assassinations are a very common occurrence among Bulgarian mafia figures and are frequently perpetrated even in the central part of the capital, Sofia. More than 150 killings have taken place since 2000. The murders are practically never solved by the police. The general public often isn't informed about the existence and prominence (and the often amusing alias) of a particular mafia figure until he is assassinated or at least an attempt at his life is made. However, most of the bosses in the following list were significant enough to be well-known even before they were killed:
Vasil Iliev - boss and founder of VIS1 and VIS2 (criminal organisations). Ambushed by an unknown killer on his way to Club "Mirage" on 04.25.1995.
Ivo Karamanski "The Godfather" - also called "Capo di tutti Capi" of the underworld in Bulgaria. Shot by a drunk acquaintance in front of his house on 12.20.1998.
Pantyu "Polly" Pantev - drug smuggler, initially affiliated with VIS, later with SIC. He was rumoured to have stolen half a ton of cocaine from the Russian or Colombian mafia. Several assassination attempts, including one with a missile, caused him to leave the country and go into hiding, until he was eventually shot on the isle of Aruba on 09.03.2001.
Konstantin "Samokovetsa" Dimitrov - drug and cigarette smuggler billionare, connected with VIS. Shot in Amsterdam on 06.12.2003.
Ivan "The Doctor" Todorov - drug smuggler and billionare. Shot with 15 bullets on 22.02.2006. He had survived another assassination attempt as his Mercedes was blown up on 18.04.2003.
Iliya Pavlov- billionare founder of Multigroup - there is no official evidence for criminal activities, but he was widely considered to be one of the bosses of the mafia, as well as being the richest man in Bulgaria. Former employees claim that he was involved in a prostitution ring. He was shot dead in the heart with a Magnum 22 in front of his office in Sofia on 03.07.2003 (an unsuccessul assassination attempt had been made in 1997).
Georgi Iliev - the brother of Vasil Iliev and successor of his criminal organisation VIS2. Shot dead in the heart in front of his club in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria on 25.08.2005
Emil Kyulev - banker, connected with SIC. Shot on 26.10.2005
Anton "The Beak" Miltenov - drug smuggler, the "Samokovetsa"'s right-hand man. He gained public exposure thanks to Interior Ministry Secretary General Boyko Borisov, who officially declared him "Samokovetsa"'s successor in the media. However, Miltenov soon lost most of his power to other bosses. This was due in part to a prolonged arrest in a trial for inciting perjury, which eventually ended in a suspended sentence. "The Beak" was shot in a popular ice-cream cafe in the centre of Sofia on 30.10.2005 (together with his co-workers Ivan "The Ghost" Todorov and Nikolay "The Eyeglasses" Dobrev). An earlier attempt on his life had been made on 28.6.2002.
The assassination of Dimitar Hristov, aka Mitko the Little One, and his bodyguards (04.06.2004) was noted not so much for its significance as for its originality, as the two hitmen entered the cafe disguised as Eastern Orthodox priests and opened fire.
Nik Radev - Russian Mafiya enforcer
Much of the post-Communist Bulgarian mafia originates from the professional sportsmen and especially the wrestlers of Communist period (1944-1989). For example, the Iliev brothers, Big Margin and Iliya Pavlov were all students of the school for future champions "Olympic Hopes" (Bulgarian: "Олимпийски надежди"). Indeed, the Bulgarian word борец ("wrestler") came to denote a mafia man (a common synonym is мутра, literally "mug"). The image of the Bulgarian "mug", including a sturdy physical build, a black suit, sunglasses, a shaved head, and golden jewellery, became iconic for the so-called Bulgarian "Transition" (to market economy).  The mafia came to control much of Bulgarian business, so the word "businessman" acquired similar undertones. The "mugs" also infiltrated Bulgarian politics (it was often alleged that SIC and VIS were connected to the two main parties of the 1990s, the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Union of Democratic Forces, respectively). As the UDF government (1997-2001) made the registration of the criminal insurance businesses more difficult, much of their networks and personnel were integrated into existing legal insurance firms, while at the same time the principal bosses moved the focus of their attention to smuggling, trade and privatization. In the beginning of the 21st century, during the rule of National Movement Simeon II (2001-2005), assassinations became especially common. Evidence for the relations between criminal figures on the one hand and politicians and officials on the other is a recurring scandal in Bulgarian politics (UDF chief prosecutor Ivan Tatarchev allegedly recreated together with Ivo Karamanski, NMS-II finance minister Milen Velchev was photographed playing cards with "The Doctor", and most recently BSP interior minister Rumen Petkov negotiated with the shadowy "Galev brothers").
The Eyes, the Beak, the Camel, the Monkey, the Canadian, the Beret are not just randomly selected nouns, but rather the exotic nicknames of some of the biggest shots in the drug business in Bulgaria.
Five or six drug lords control the entire drug market in this country, according to a special report by the Centre for the Study of Democracy. The report, entitled "The Drugs Market In Bulgaria" was released last week, although its premiere originally had been planned for a later date. Some of the "heroes" portrayed, however, were either killed or have disappeared. Samokovetsa was shot in Amsterdam and Meto Ilianski has been missing since late November. The report has been hammered out by a group of experts including some from the National Service for Combatting Organised Crime. The report was released in the presence of Interior ministry chief secretary Boiko Borissov.
There are, roughly speaking, three main drug markets in Bulgaria, respectively those dealing with heroin, soft drugs and synthetic drugs. There is a fourth marginal market trading in cocaine, LSD and other psychoactive substances rarely used in the country. These markets are practically independent. There is no such thing as a national drugs market, but rather independent local markets, said Tihomir Bezlov, co-ordinator of the expert group that produced the report.
One gram of heroin is 80 leva. One dose of the stuff costs five to six leva, although some dealers sell it for two leva. Under the report, there are about 15 000 heroin addicts in Bulgaria, who need an average 1.9 dose of heroin a day. Thus, calculations show that daily heroin market is estimated to stand between 55 million and 135 million leva.
Sofia is naturally the biggest "local market" and accounts for almost half the drug market in the country. It is claimed to have a five-rank hierarchy, very similar to the classic structure of New York's heroin market as described in a study in 1969. Drug markets in other large cities such as Varna, Bourgas and Plovdiv are said to have a four-ranking hierarchy.
Those addicted to heroin are at the lowest level of the hierarchy. Many surveys have shown that there is only one step from using to selling heroin. This is a major way to recruit street dealers. An addict starts selling heroin and in return for that he/she gets the much-needed daily dose.
Next there is the second level in the hierarchy - the dealers. They are very similar to the sales agents. The skillful dealers are always seeking for a better place to sell their stuff and can change their boss, the one who actually stands higher in the hierarchy and pulls the strings. The career dealers have actually worked for at least five or six different bosses. Since 2001, the profile of a dealer has undergone considerable changes. Previously, dealers would sell in public places (gardens, parks, pubs), or at home, while now more than 95 per cent of the sales are done via the phone, particularly after the appearance of pre-paid SIM cards, which can be easily thrown away and replaced to secure anonymity for the owner.
The desired dose can be ordered over the phone and typically the dealer agrees to meet the client at a place hidden from unwanted eyes. In a further effort to mislead the police, there are different "techniques" to hand over the heroin. One way is to have the heroin in one's palm and to deliver it upon shaking hands, which is also the way to receive the money for the goods. Since the dealer is most vulnerable when caught with many doses of heroin on him, these are typically stored in a way that allows their holder to get rid of them very quickly. Tiny plastic bags of heroin, the size of a capsule, are placed in the mouth. If the police search the dealer, he swallows the capsules.
To avoid any risks, the dealer can actually have two or three aides - one to make the deal over the phone, one to pick up the money and one to deliver the drugs.
During the past year, drug lords try to "hire" dealers under 18 years of age, who are prosecuted under a lighter regime and can be defended much more successfully by lawyers. Yet another trend is to prefer "clean" dealers, meaning ones who are not on dope. If they start using drugs, they are immediately replaced. This is yet another way to make things more difficult for the police who find it hard to keep track of who is doing business.
Dealers differ in different towns across the country. In Plovdiv, for example, taxi drivers of Roma origins are the most typical drug dealers. In Bourgas, every drug boss marks his men with a specific tattoo. Mythical animals and Oriental plants are the most frequent elements in the tattoos which designate the network and a member's position in the hierarchy. A survey cited in the report said that clients seem to distinguish the tattoos and are thus sure they are buying from the right person.
The third level in the hierarchy is occupied by those who supply the dealers with drugs and collect the money. 45 per cent of a dose of heroin, which is worth six leva in the streets of Sofia, go to the dealer, while 20 per cent go to the supplier.
The dealer has the right to go to another supplier, if his own has run out of heroin, but only within the frameworks of the "company," meaning all the suppliers working for the same boss. If the dealer gets the drugs from a source outside the region, he is said to have committed "shano" in the drugs lingo and should be severely punished.
Also on the third level of the hierarchy is the "mule," supplying drugs to the supplier. Taxi drivers or drivers delivering goods around shops are among the most frequently used "mules" since they would seem least suspicious. There are also huge storage houses containing the heroin for the month. It is believed that there are two or three such storage houses in Sofia.
The heads of regions come fourth in the hierarchy. The fourth level is extremely turbulent and has been constantly re-tailored. According to information collected from suppliers, police officers and special services, at present there are nine regions in the capital city each following the outlines of the corresponding regional police departments. This is not accidental. The head of a region is said to go after tacit agreements with the police who close their eyes in return for 10 000 to 20 000 leva per year.
The "black lawyers" are also consigned to the fourth level. They have typically worked as prosecutors, investigators or even judges. Thus their cases are distributed depending on the influence they have in different parts of the judiciary. There are about 20 such lawyers in Sofia, according to the report.
The hierarchy is also guarded by the so-called "punishing squads." Each and every regional boss is said to support a squad of three or four men who are in charge of discipline. They monitor the distribution of supplies and punish trespassing of territory. One or two of the squad also act as bodyguards to the boss. The penalties they resort to can be provisionally said to be three different types. The dealers or suppliers could be imposed a fine of hundreds to thousands of leva. Or they can be beaten up heavily. The third and most severe punishment is maiming - the offender might end up with both elbows or knees broken. The bones targetted are those that heal slowly or may not heal at all.
Each of the members in a punishing squad is said to receive a minimum of 300 leva a week plus extras, such as a mobile, a car, free treatment at the restaurants owned by the boss or he can have any of the prostitutes on the boss's contingent. The head of the squad receives 1500 leva a week.
The ultimate top of the hierarchy is occupied by the big shots. They have a stable "white" business with officially declared huge revenues. At the same time, however, their legal activities are related to grey and black business that provides for large-scale additional financial, organisational and human resources. This constant transition from white to grey to black makes it extremely difficult to reach the real bosses at the fifth level.
The late Kosio Samokovetsa, Zlatomir "The Beret" Ivanov and missing Meto Ilianski were said to be the three biggest sharks controlling the drug market in Sofia. After the death of Samokovetsa, Boiko Borissov named The Beak as Samokovetsa's most likely successor. Dembi is the next most frequently mentioned name. He is said to come immediately after The Beak in the hierarchy.
Redistribution and reshuffling in the business happens only if a boss has been dealt damages worth above $500 000 000 a year, Borissov said.
The heroin market has plunged into a crisis since 2001, Bezlov said. A new phenomenon has appeared as of summer this year - synthetic drugs are trying to oust heroin. Borissov referred to the recently seized synthetic drug "picco." One kilogram of heroin is imported from Turkey for about 10 000 euro. At the same time, one of the most popular synthetic drugs, the picco, can be produced right here, before our eyes or in the garage of your grandmother's house. The raw materials for its production cost 3000 leva, while one gram of the picco costs 30 to 40 leva.
Interior Ministry data say that 12 laboratories for making synthentic drugs have been busted in the past two years. Little is known, however, of the turnover from synthetic drugs and about the people trading in them.
"We have intentionally let part of the production leave the country and enter neighbouring countries where these are caught and adequate punishments imposed," Borissov said.
The hierarchy on the synthetics market resembles the famous cocaine "sand-glass" structure, the report reads. The top is occupied by "the workers" - hundreds of people who receive cheap equipment, precursors and instructions to produce the drugs. The workers are followed by the "couriers" who deliver the precursors, sub-products and the ready amphetamine. Further down follow the people involved in the imports of precursors, and the chemists. Experts with the special services refer to a number of indications that some of the most prestigious chemists in Bulgaria have been approached to join, even against their will, the production of synthetic drugs. Those who have taken part in the development of the technology for the production of captagon have been paid particular attention. The murder of the daughter of one of Bulgaria's most famous chemists in the past is cited by the report as a piece of evidence in support of this observation.
The most narrow part in the "sand-glass" scheme is occupied by the big shots. Then the structure goes on to resemble that of the heroin market.
Soft drugs users account for the largest share of drug users in the country. The amount of soft drugs (marijuana, hashish, cannabis) used in a year stands at about 4000 to 5000 kg, the report said. The retail price of a kilogram varies between 800 and 1000 leva, or a total of 3.2 million to five million leva. The soft drugs market, however, is still left slack of the control of the heavy heroin players. This market in particular is shared among petty dealers who buy from the producers and sell to regulars and friends.
Bulgarian tycoon gunned down
Pavlov was said to be the eighth richest man in Eastern Europe
A prominent Bulgarian billionaire has been shot dead in the capital Sofia, a day after he testified in the murder trial of a former Prime Minister, Andrei Lukanov.
Iliya Pavlov, the president of Bulgaria's biggest industrial holding, MG Corporation, was shot on Friday afternoon outside his office and died shortly afterwards in hospital.
"Iliya Pavlov was killed by a single bullet that hit close to his heart," Bulgarian Interior Minister Georgi Petkanov said, adding that his several bodyguards were unhurt.
Mr Pavlov, 43, was thought to be the richest man in Bulgaria, worth about $1.5bn (£933m). His company employs about 10,000 people.
Wrestler turned businessman
On Thursday, Mr Pavlov gave evidence in the trial of three Bulgarians and two Ukrainians accused of involvement in the assassination of Mr Lukanov, Bulgaria's first post-Communist prime minister.
Lukanov was assassinated in 1996
Mr Pavlov, a former wrestler turned businessman after the fall of communism, told the court he knew Mr Lukanov through their business activity.
The tycoon was ranked the eighth richest man in Eastern Europe by the Polish magazine Vprost last year.
Mr Pavlov survived an attempt on his life in 2001, when a bomb exploded on the road to his house.
Mr Lukanov, who masterminded the downfall of Bulgaria's long-serving communist leader Todor Zhivkov in 1989, was found shot in front of his Sofia home in October 1996.
At the time, Bulgarian media said Mr Lukanov's death was a contract killing related to his business activities.
There is this Slavic Orthodox thing we have with the Serbs and the Bulgarians which keep us together more on social occasions in the world of organized crime...
The Albanians are different and the ethnic tensions don't only mean we can do business, but they do create different opinions in people and well the athmosphere is very tense at first...
Besides being closest to the Serbs and Bulgarians, we work with the Albanians, Turks and Roma closest after the Serbs and Bulgarians, and them come the Italians and the Russians.
Statistics: Posted by razbojnik — September 30th, 2008, 2:49 pm