Russia Gets Its First Criminal Gang Made Up of Ex-Wagner Mercs

SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

A criminal gang made up mostly of former Wagner mercenaries has been busted in Russia’s Oryol region for extorting local residents.

The regional branch of the Federal Security Service said Tuesday that four members of the gang obtained three apartments, five vehicles, and millions of rubles in cash by extorting residents “at gunpoint.” According to the well-connected Baza Telegram channel, three of the four members previously served in the Wagner Group. Baza also notes that the group was shaking down locals “in the interests of drug dealers.”

One of the men targeted back in November 2023 is said to have owed money to a drug dealer, so the gang showed up to make him hand it over. He wound up signing over ownership of his Audi A6 since he didn’t have any money, authorities said. A 24-year-old resident then gave the group about $563 the next month when they threatened him with a hunting knife, an ax, and a homemade gun with a silencer, Baza reports.

Soon after, another man who is said to have owed money to a drug dealer was forced to talk his own mother into signing over the title of her apartment to the group after they showed up wielding weapons.

Another Prisoner Freed for Wagner Burns Two Women Alive

The gang, which reportedly formed in May 2023, appears to be the first one in Russia composed of ex-Wagnerites. But it joins a rapidly growing list of former Wagner fighters bringing violence and bloodshed to Russian soil after the mercenary group gained fame for its role in the war against Ukraine.

Another former member of the group, 41-year-old Alexander Kuzmin, was recently sentenced to eight years in prison for savagely murdering a woman last winter after he’d returned from the battlefield, Verskta reports. Kuzmin, who’d already been convicted of one murder prior to that one, was only free thanks to a pardon from Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin’s deranged prison-recruitment scheme.

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