Details You Didn't Know About The Russian Gang Solntsevskaya Bratva

Crime syndicates are spread all over the globe, such as the Yakuza, Cosa Nostra, and the Sinaloa Cartel, just to name a few. These mafias have been and continue to be the subjects of pop culture, in some cases romanticizing the idea of being part of a gang — a type of brotherhood that runs deeper than family ties.

One of the biggest crime gangs in the world is the Solntsevskaya Bratva, a Russian organized crime syndicate that was founded in the '80s. The fall of the Soviet Union caused organized crime in Russia to prosper, and the Bratva slowly rose in power and flourished. According to a survey in 2008, as reported by Daily Record, the Solntsevskaya Bratva is one of the worst gangs in the world, with criminal activities including "extortion, drug trafficking, car theft, stolen art, money laundering, contract killings, arms dealing, trading nuclear material, prostitution, and oil deals."

Sergei Mikhailov formed the brotherhood in the '80s

Sergei Mikhailov is the man responsible for the formation of Solntsevskaya Bratva aka the Solntsevo Brotherhood. Mikhas, as he is called, was a waiter and served at different restaurants in Moscow, but the pay just wasn't enough for his liking, and that's when he started a life of crime. In 1984, Mikhas was apprehended and charged with fraud and theft (via Gangsters Inc). He was sentenced to six months in the Gulag, a prison labor camp with harsh conditions.

The Gulag was established during Joseph Stalin's dictatorship of the Soviet Union. Prison labor camps were packed, and prisoners spent most of their days working. Many of them died of exhaustion, starvation, and contagious diseases if they weren't executed, according to History. Sergei met members of Russian gangs and mafias while there, and those were the connections that helped him establish the Solntsevskaya Bratva. By the time Sergei got of prison, he had a notorious reputation because of the contacts he made while serving time.

The gang was named after the Solntsevo District

The Solntsevskaya Bratva established its roots in the Solntsevo District in Moscow, thus the name of the gang, per Gutenberg. Solntsevo was a working-class neighborhood in the southern part of Moscow where most of the original members of the gang originated. When Solntsevskaya was established, there were already a few other gangs occupying the Solntsevo District, which ignited some gang wars. However, Sergei's brotherhood would always come out on top, and this led some of the other gangs to ally with the Solntsevskaya, according to Gangsters Inc. Some gangs were even chased out of the district.

The Solntsevskaya Bratva increased in number and by the '90s, legitimate businesses were established in parts of Samara, Crimea, and Moscow to hide the gang's illicit activities (via Gutenberg). Soon after, businesses were also put up in other countries, giving the gang an even greater reach. The Solntsevskaya Bratva grew fast in just a few years and would become one of the most feared crime syndicate groups in the world.

The gang allegedly does not follow the Thieves' Code of Conduct

Just like any other organized crime group, Russian gangs follow strict guidelines that when not followed could result in death. The Russians have a Thieves' Code of Conduct, or as they call it, Vory v Zakone. There are 18 rules of the code, and all of them ensure the protection of its members and the brotherhood.

The Federation of American Scientists published the list, which includes basics such as keeping locations of accomplices a secret, teaching beginners of the brotherhood the ways of the gang, and pushing through with promises made to other thieves. Other rules pertaining to relationships with authorities state that members should in no way be affiliated with them.

According to Gutenberg, however, the Solntsevskaya Bratva does not strictly follow the code. The organization supposedly runs more like the Western way and treats their illicit activities as a business. Sergei Mikhailov reportedly would rather be called a businessman than a thief.

Solntsevskaya Bratva's revenue is in the billions

It's no surprise that crime syndicates get a lot of money from their criminal activities, and the Solntsevskaya Bratva is considered one of the richest gangs in the world, according to a report from Yahoo Finance. The report, which was published in 2014, says that the Russian gang has a revenue of $8.5 billion. This, however, may be a rough figure as there is no way to keep track of syndicates' revenues because of their money laundering schemes and their efforts to hide money.

Solntsevskaya has only grown in number throughout the years and members of the group are experts in different fields, therefore broadening their ventures. As mentioned before, the group runs plenty of legitimate businesses that boost their revenue, and when added to the money they acquire from criminal activities, it's no wonder they are worth billions. The same report from Yahoo Finance states that the gang has a council of 12 members that oversees their finances.

The group operates and has allies all over the globe

Solntsevskaya Bratva has been dabbling in drug trafficking, extortion, fraud, and money laundering since the beginning. They have also formed allies in different parts of the globe to increase the scope of their operations. According to a report from Ridgway Research, the group has operated in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Mexico. They allegedly also had activities in Asian countries, such as Japan, Malaysia, China, and Indonesia. Per Yahoo Finance, the group also purportedly has close ties with Afghanistan and works with them on heroin trades, a large source of revenue for the gang.

Aside from having ties with other crime syndicate groups, the Solntsevskaya Bratva allegedly has connections within the government and those in high-ranking positions. There were even rumors that the federal intelligence agency of Russia is protecting the gang, as revealed in a 2010 WikiLeaks release, according to GQ. The reports alleged that Russia is a "mafia-state," operating on protection rackets and corruption.