Misha Glenny

Misha Glenny is a former BBC foreign correspondent and the author of several books on organised crime, including McMafia and DarkMarket.

How to Buy Drugs

Misha Glenny and Callum Lang, 7 November 2019

In​ early February this year, what appeared to be a website glitch sent thousands of drugs-buyers into a panic. Liam (not his real name), a student at Manchester University, needed to buy some MDMA for the weekend’s big party. So he did what he had been doing for the last two years: he opened up the Tor browser to get on to the dark web, and typed in the address for Dream Market, the...

Into the Wild: The Dark Net

Misha Glenny, 19 March 2015

My first encounter​ with the dark net was in Rio de Janeiro in 2006. I was interviewing a public prosecutor about the changing nature of organised crime in Brazil. His office was in Barra, an affluent residential area in the west of the city, where one would expect prosecutors to be mostly occupied with crimes against property. He pulled out a file and explained, despairingly, that he had...

Robert Friedman’s Red Mafiya: How the Russian Mob Has Invaded America came out in 2000. Two years before that, in June 1998, he received a phone call from Mike McCall, an FBI agent. McCall warned him that his investigation into Russian organised crime was proving dangerous. ‘I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings,’ McCall said, ‘but a major Russian organised crime figure has taken out a contract on your life.’ Reporting conflicts like those in Yugoslavia or Sierra Leone was a risky business for journalists in the post-Cold War world, but nobody expected that they would start getting whacked by foreign mafia hitmen in the middle of New York or London.

‘Kosovo,’ the Prime Minister tells us, ‘is on the doorstep of Europe.’ The province, we learn, is situated near countries like Greece and Italy with which British people are very familiar from their holidays. This is why we cannot stand idly by and watch the Serbs perpetrating atrocities on Albanian civilians. Why exactly, though? Because it might interfere with our package holiday arrangements? Or because it is on the doorstep of Europe? What is the doorstep of Europe and why is Kosovo outside the house?‘

After five and a half years of carnage and chaos, the Yugoslav Army (VJ) is tattered and demoralised; its officers have lost the enormous prestige which the old Yugoslavia showered on its predecessor, the Yugoslav National Army (JNA). The Serbian President, Slobodan Milosevic, has carried out regular purges of the generals and colonels, blaming the Army for defeats in Bosnia and Croatia, even as the outside world excoriates it for the massacres that took place during the wars in both places. The heroic exploits of Serbia’s soldiers and Tito’s Partisans in the First and Second World Wars are forgotten, embedded in a history which has been obscured by the bloodshed of half a decade. Now that the Army is penniless, sitting on stocks of rusting weaponry and outmoded ordnance, even senior officers have begun to sign petitions protesting against their ever thinner wage packets. Milosevic ignores the military’s advice. During last year’s anti-Government demonstrations, sustained for more than three months, he warned the VJ leadership to keep its nose out of politics. For the first time, the VJ’s younger officers expressed support for Milosevic’s opponents, even promising that they would uphold the democratic rights of ordinary citizens. This was taken at the time to mean that part of the Army would support the opposition in any confrontation with forces loyal to the President. Milosevic’s growing suspicion of the Army has led him to rely instead on his personal retinue – the vastly expanded police force comprising 60-70,000 well-armed and well-paid men.’

The Numbers Game: Favelas

Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, 21 January 2016

In Rio de Janeiro​ in the 1950s, we barely noticed the shacks on the sides of Two Brothers Mountain, which would later become the favela of Rocinha – barely noticed them at least from the...

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Not Just the Money: Cybermafia

Mattathias Schwartz, 5 July 2012

Message boards are online forums typically concerned with a single subject, whose users can post public messages in ‘threads’ to do with a particular aspect of that subject, or...

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Gazillions: Organised Crime

Neal Ascherson, 3 July 2008

In the courtyard of Steam Baths Number Four, on Astashkina Street in Odessa, there are two marble plaques with bunches of flowers laid on the ground beneath them. The first is engraved with the...

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