Founded within the Solntsevo district of Moscow in the early 1980's, the Solntsevskaya Bratva has since risen to become one of if not the most powerful Russian Mafia group in the world.
With a reported revenue of over $11Bn CAD per year, this organization is also one of the richest criminal groups next to other top transnational organizations such as the Sinaloa Cártel, CJNG and Japan's own Yamaguchi-Gumi.
They are known to operate throughout much of eastern Europe, the United States, Israel and just about everywhere else. Where their tendrils snake into night clubs, brothels, car dealerships, gas stations, casinos, sports clubs and more.
Their leaders aren't what you'd expect either. They're business moguls, military officers and even reportedly a few odd members of the Russian Duma.
There's no doubt about it, they're well connected, well off, and extremely dangerous. With those who've gotten on their bad side ending up in a blaze of fire through car bombings or extinguished in a volley of lead.
If you're a member though, death often means being immortalized in stone through etchings and elaborate carvings. A fine tribute to one's comrades who've died in the line of duty.
Many of their members are ethnic Russians, Jews and Ukrainian's. The latter surely affording them a great deal of privileges when it comes to gaining weapons and ammunition with the current crisis of the Ukrainian civil war.
They have and continue to use their Jewish links in order to get into Israel as well, where members on the lam tend to go for sanctuary. They've had difficulties in the past meddling in Israel's affairs however, finding that while their mighty connections in Russia allow them easy compliance with law enforcement, the Israelite's aren't so readily done over by the group's corruptive influence. Which has led to major arrests in the past. Not to say the Russian's aren't constantly picking up members of the group either, just that things are easier in the Motherland.
That is after all, due to the fact the group seems to enjoy some historical connection to the FSB, Russia's modern KGB. Who got involved with the organization due to their rivals, the Obschina (aka the Chechen Mafia) having links to Chechnya's separatists. This left Russian officials seeing an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, and so a partnership of sorts was formed.
The unfortunate result of this is still being seen today. While low ranking members might end up enjoying stints in Russia's prisons, the majority of the group's highest ranking elite seem free of judicial scrutiny.
Like so many of the crime groups which sprung out of the post-Soviet era, the Solntsevskaya Bratva were born from the ashes of Communism. When Russia's institutions and society were at their weakest and most uncertain, struggling to reorient and acclimatize themselves to swathes of new regulations which were meant to open up the country to new and better things.
Instead, it seems groups like the Solntsevskaya and a select few among Russia's oligarchy have been those best off from the arrangement.