An organized crime boss from Uzbekistan, Gafur Rakhimov, helped Russia win the 2014 Winter Olympics, according to an investigation done by ABC News journalists.

The American ABC News released the findings of their investigation yesterday in which it is alleged that Russia was assisted by the criminal boss and heroin kingpin in beating out Austria and South Korea for the chance to host the upcoming games.

ABC reports that Rakhimov – who is one of the world’s major suppliers of heroin and is currently under criminal indictment in Uzbekistan – leveraged his connections and “bags of cash” to secure sufficient votes, mostly from some Asian countries, for Sochi to host the games.

After the International Olympic Committee voted in 2007 to award the games to Sochi, the head of the Russian Olympic Committee publicly thanked Rakhimov, according to ABC.

“He is one of the four or five most important people in the heroin trade in the world,” Craig Murray, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, told ABC News. He’s absolutely a very major and dangerous gangster,” Murray said.

Former ambassador Murray said the heroin from Rakhimov’s network moves through Central Asia to St. Petersburg, Russia and then on the United Kingdom.

In 2012, U.S. Treasury officials sought to freeze Rakhimov’s bank accounts around the world, describing him in public documents as a “key member” of a huge criminal syndicate known as the Brothers’ Circle operating in the post-Soviet region.

“He has operated major international drug syndicates involving the trafficking of heroin,” the Treasury statement said.

Rakhimov confirmed to ABC News, through a translator, that he played a role in helping Russia win votes through his contacts in Central Asian Olympic circles.

“He convinced them because of his good relations with these people. He has great influence,” the translator, who was also a spokesman for Rakhimov, said during a phone interview from Dubai.

Rakhimov’s spokesperson then denied that bribes were given or any financial transactions took place.

Speaking to the ABC journalists, Russian journalists and political opposition leaders sounded critical of Russia’s handling of the Olympic Games in Sochi for other reasons as well.

Boris Nemtsov, opposition leader and former head of the government in Russia, said that the Olympic games have cost the country a record 50 billion USD, 30 billion USD of which he believes have been embezzled.

The ABC journalist is shown in the report as travelling on the newly built road abutting the train tracks. At the cost of a whopping 9 billion USD his highway is said to be the most expensive in the world with every mile having cost 300 million USD.

“How much did it cost for the US to fly to Mars?” asks Nemtsov. He helpfully provides the answer – three billion USD, one third of the cost of the Sochi highway.

Gafur Rakhimov left Uzbekistan almost fifteen years ago and settled in the United Arab Emirates.

Rakhimov told ABC News he does not plan to attend the Olympic games in Sochi next week. A law enforcement official said Rakhimov was likely concerned that he could be arrested under the indictment issued by Uzbekistan.

Uznews.net is an independent Uzbek news website. As of 2010, it had been blocked by the Uzbek government for several years. The website’s editor-in-chief is Galima Bukhardbaeva, an Uzbek journalist known for her eyewitness coverage of the 2005 Andijan massacre. She later won th the International Press Freedom Award of the Committee to Protect Journalists.

ABC video here

Apparently, Rakhimov is a part of the Brother’s Circle, an organized crime group. Often, and for their benefit, key players in such organizations use their influence in attempt to turn the idea of their very existence into one of myth and rumor:

Mark Galeotti, an expert on Eurasian security has stated that: “I have not found anyone in Russian law enforcement or elsewhere who actually says ‘yes, the Brothers’ circle is an organization and it exists. As such the label Brothers’ Circle could be seen as an attempt to connect disparate criminal gangs.”  In June 2012, with the designation of five more kingpins, Galeotti restated his opinion that the Brothers’ Circle did not exist as a specific gang, but noted that the sanctions were in fact targeting members of Aslan Usoyan’s criminal network.

Hustlers
More on the Brother’s Circle.

The largest opium production regions are geographically nearby:

Afghan Opium,  According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2007 Afghanistan Opium Survey, Afghanistan produced approximately 8,200 metric tonnes of opium – nearly double the estimate of global annual consumption. According to EU agencies, Afghanistan has been Europe’s main heroin supplier for more than 10 years.Heroin enters Europe primarily by two major land routes: the long-standing ‘Balkan route’ through Turkey; and, since the mid-1990s, the ‘northern route’, which leaves northern Afghanistan through Central Asia and on to Russia (and is sometimes colloquially referred to as the ‘silk route’). Afghanistan’s economy has thus evolved to the point where it is now highly dependent on opium. Although less than 4 percent of arable land in Afghanistan was used for opium poppy cultivation in 2006, revenue from the harvest brought in over $3 billion—more than 35 percent of the country’s total gross national product (GNP). According to Antonio Costa, “Opium poppy cultivation, processing, and transport have become Afghanistan’s top employers, its main source of capital, and the principal base of its economy.” Today, a record 2.9 million Afghanis from 28 of 34 provinces are involved in opium cultivation in some way, which represents nearly 10 percent of the population. Although Afghanistan’s overall economy is being boosted by opium profits, less than 20 percent of the $3 billion in opium profits actually goes to impoverished farmers, while more than 80 percent goes into the pockets of Afghan’s opium traffickers and kingpins and their political connections. Even heftier profits are generated outside of Afghanistan by international drug traffickers and dealers.

Southeast Asian Opium is transported by horse and donkey caravans to refineries along the Thailand–Burma border for conversion to heroin and heroin base. Most of the finished products are shipped across the border into various towns in North Thailand and down to Bangkok for further distribution to international markets. Most frequently brought to the United States by couriers, typically Thai and U.S. nationals, traveling on commercial airlines. California and Hawaii are the primary U.S. entry points for Golden Triangle heroin, but small percentages of the drug are trafficked into New York City and Washington, D.C. While Southeast Asian groups have had success in trafficking heroin to the United States, they initially had difficulty arranging street level distribution. However, with the incarceration of Asian traffickers in American prisons during the 1970s, contacts between Asian and American prisoners developed. These contacts have allowed Southeast Asian traffickers access to gangs and organizations distributing heroin at the retail level.

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