What Was Ukraine Drug Trafficker Doing in Mexico?

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Authorities in Mexico have arrested an alleged member of an Eastern European mafia organization who led a drug trafficking network with links to Asia and Europe, raising questions as to what he was doing in the country and whether he was acting as a broker for international criminal groups.

Based on intelligence from US law enforcement, Mexican police agents arrested Ukrainian national Steven Vladyslav Subkys, suspected of running a criminal organization dedicated to laundering money and trafficking arms and drugs in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and the United States, reported Proceso. He was found in an exclusive residential development on the outskirts of Tijuana, Baja California.

Subkys had apparently been living in Mexico for several years, allegedly working as a representative for a real estate company while maintaining contacts with the leadership of criminal organizations based in both Europe and Asia, known alternatively as “organitzatsja,” “mafiya,” or “bratva.” According to El Mexicano, authorities from the State Public Security Secretariat (SSPE) gave an unofficial account in which they claimed he was wanted by the United States and was a dangerous member of the Russian mafia.

Two other men identified as members of Subkys’ network were arrested in the same area on March 4. El Mexicano reported that US investigations determined the group operated in New York and engaged in methamphetamine trafficking, automobile theft and the distribution of contraband cigarettes.

InSight Crime Analysis

What little available information there is on Subkys suggests he is a significant player in the international criminal underworld with an influential network of contacts. Sources close to the InSight Crime’s partner organization in Europe, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), however, told InSight Crime he was not a well known figure in his homeland, suggesting he has built up this network while living overseas.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of European Organized Crime

It is not known if Subkys was in Mexico to buy drugs, meet associates, or simply escape prosecution by US authorities. His potential connections with criminal networks in the Middle East and Asia, however, are interesting, given the growing evidence of ties between Mexico and these regions.

Asian mafias are known to have a presence in Baja California, where Tijuana is located. Meanwhile, Latin American criminal groups have been expanding their presence and operations in Asia and the Middle East, and Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel has been seen making particular moves into the Asian drug market.

It is possible Subkys was acting as an intermediary, or “fixer,” for one or more of these different groups, putting his criminal contacts in touch for the purpose of conducting business on an international level. 

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