clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Former UFC fighter Levan Makashvili, 32 others arrested in connection with Russian crime organization

UFC Fight Night: Jackson v Makashvili Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Former UFC featherweight fighter Levan Makashvili was among 33 individuals arrested earlier this week in connection with a New York-based Russian crime organization known as The Shulaya Enterprise.

Makashvili, 28, fought for UFC three times, including a split decision victory over mark Eddiva at UFC Fight Night 66. He produced a 1-1-1 record from 2015-2016 and has won all three of his professional bouts since leaving the promotion last year. The Georgian is being charged with racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud “in connection with their plot to defraud casinos through the use of electronic devices and software designed to predict the behavior of particular models of electronic ‘slot’ machines, thereby removing the element of chance from play of those machines.”

The US Department of Justice revealed details about the The Shulaya Enterprise in an official press release earlier this week:

The Shulaya Enterprise was an organized criminal group operating under the direction and protection of RAZHDEN SHULAYA a/k/a “Brother,” a/k/a “Roma,” a “vor v zakonei” or “vor,” which are Russian phrases translated roughly as “thief-in-law” or “thief,” and which refer to an order of elite criminals from the former Soviet Union who receive tribute from other criminals, offer protection, and use their recognized status as vor to adjudicate disputes among lower-level criminals. As a vor, SHULAYA had substantial influence in the criminal underworld and offered assistance to and protection of the members and associates of the Shulaya Enterprise. Those members and associates, and SHULAYA himself, engaged in widespread criminal activities, including acts of violence, extortion, the operation of illegal gambling businesses, fraud on various casinos, identity theft, credit card frauds, and trafficking of large quantities of stolen goods.

The Shulaya Enterprise comprised groups of individuals, often with overlapping members or associates, dedicated to particular criminal tasks. While many of these crews were based in New York City, the Shulaya Enterprise had operations in various locations throughout the United States (including in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Nevada) and abroad. Most members and associates of the Shulaya Enterprise were born in the former Soviet Union and many maintained substantial ties to Georgia, the Ukraine, and the Russian Federation, including regular travel to those countries, communication with associates in those countries, and the transfer of criminal proceeds to individuals in those countries.

According to the report, The Shulaya Enterprise is facing the following charges:

— The operation of illicit poker businesses in Brighton Beach;

— The extortion of gamblers who became indebted to the Shulaya Enterprise;

— Attempts to extort local business owners;

— Efforts to defraud casinos in Atlantic City and Philadelphia by using electronic devices and computer servers to predict and exploit the behavior of electronic slot machines;

— The theft of cargo shipments, including a shipment containing approximately 10,000 pounds of chocolate confections;

— The use of a female member of the Shulaya Enterprise to seduce men, incapacitate them with gas, and then rob them;

— Attempts to create an after-hours nightclub that would host, among other things, the sale of narcotics;

— The transportation and sale of numerous cases of untaxed cigarettes;

— Plans to pay bribes to local law enforcement; and

— Creation and use of forged identification documents, checks, and invoices.

Also arrested was professional boxer Avtandil Khurtsidze, who was scheduled to fight Billy Joe Saunders on July 8 for the WBO middleweight title. Khurtsidze was charged with conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), along with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and could face 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Stick with Mania as more news pertaining to the investigation is revealed.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania