MOB RULE: ‘Dancing With Mr. ‘D’, Trump, RussiaGate & Transnational Organized Crime – By Daniel Hopsicker

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  • “…Mr. D” is the nickname of Oleg Deripaska, the Russian oligarch. He gave eighteen million dollars to Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s first campaign manager…He was Vladimir Putin’s Swiss Army knife. And he was the Oliver North of RussiaGate…Was RussiaGate a hoax? Or is Donald Trump just a gifted liar?, Maybe reserve judgment a while. There’s more to come”

Dancing with Mr. ‘D’

By Daniel Hopsicker

Trump, RussiaGate & transnational organized crime

In June of 2019 Federal authorities discovered twenty tons of cocaine at the Port of Philadelphia aboard a giant container ship, the “MSC Gayane.”

The drugs were found in seven shipping containers. How they came to be aboard a giant 1000-foot long and ten-story high  container ship,  Bloomberg magazine admitted, “was a bizarre and almost unbelievable story, involving the ship’s crew loading drugs at sea from more than two dozen small boats operated by smugglers wearing ski masks.”

Indeed, Bloomberg was right. It was an almost unbelievable story.  Except you could leave out “almost.”

(Still, Bloomberg deserves thanks. I’m stealing one of their nifty images (above) because it’s a perfect illustration of why so much of the information offered about the 20-ton seizure is so very very wrong.)

The MSC Gayane became one of the largest drug seizures in US history. And an extraordinarily brazen example that the RussiaGate Scandal is hiding in plain sight.

“Mr. D” is the nickname of Oleg Deripaska, the Russian oligarch. He gave eighteen million dollars to Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s first campaign manager. He plays such an outsized role in the scandal.

He was Vladimir Putin’s Swiss Army knife. And he was the Oliver North of RussiaGate.

Some Russians & Americans behind RussiaGate

Watergate and RussiaGate— the two mega-scandals of the past hundred years—have a lot in common. Both were break-ins.

Except Watergate burglars Gordon Liddy & E. Howard Hunt became famous almost as soon as they were caught.

But the Russian hackers whose alleged crimes kicked off what became RussiaGate never became famous. Today, few even know their names.

They were just “mechanics,” like the Watergate burglars, but as RussiaGate heated up, their profiles should have been raised as they were ushered out of the shadows and into the light. But they weren’t. They remained faceless. Their identities were suppressed.

Finally, however, the Russian hackers today deserve to be as famous as Watergate burglars Liddy and Hunt. It’s natural that many have forgotten what RussiaGate was about.

The scandal was effectively squelched. Plus there was an orange man waving his arms and screaming “hoax” a dozen times a day. That’s why now is a good time to remember the Russian hackers.

Maybe even say their names out loud. They weren’t faceless automatons. They had names, biographies, work history’s, squads of bodyguards, wives and girlfriends, armored limousines, mansions, and multi-million-dollar car collections.

Also, they had still-visible links with criminal networks in the U.S.

‘Red Eye’ was Original ‘G’

The four most prominent Russian hackers— Pavel Vrublevsky, Peter Levashov, Roman Seleznev, and Jevgenij Nikulin—have much in common. While still in their 20’s and 30’s, they were already pulling down what in Russia pass ed as “LeBron James’ money.”

They drove “statement” cars. Tooling around in those cars on seemingly carefree vacations led three of them to being arrested.

Here’s the salient question: Were these Russian hackers’ links to American criminal networks ever exposed? Or were they suppressed? Let’s take a look. Then, you make the call.

In Russia’s hacker fraternity, Pavel Vrublevsky was the Original ‘G.’  A decade ago, he was known  simply as “Red Eye.”

During the summer of 2016, ‘Red Eye’ Vrublevsky was the first Russian hacker identified by name by the FBI during their probe into Russian interference in the U.S. Presidential election.

Brian Krebs, an American cybersecurity expert who also spent time in Moscow, confirmed initial reports that Pavel Vrublevsky and a partner named Vladimir Fomenko, owner of King-Servers in the Netherlands, had jointly controlled internet addresses used to hack into state election boards in the U.S.

Krebs was a dogged former Washington Post investigative  reporter in the right place at the right time. For much of this story,  credit and glory goes to him.

Vladimir Fomenko, a young techie from western Siberia, was a bit player in the Russian hacking scandals roiling U.S. politics.

But Fomenko’s boss Pavel “Red Eye” Vrublevsky was already a Russian internet tycoon who was used to attracting the lion’s share of attention.

Fomenko soon admitted that his IP addresses hacked election systems in Illinois and Arizona. He said Pavel Vrublevsky owned the servers.

‘Red Eye’ was not only a principal in RussiaGate. He was also the main accuser in an ongoing and deadly serious cyber showdown in Moscow.

A handful of intelligence agents in a cybersecurity unit of the Russian Federal Security Service were  arrested at work,  frog marched out of the building wearing hoods, and charged with high treason.

Many observers thought the four men fingered by ‘Red Eye’ were the first to alert Western intelligence agencies to the imminent threat posed by Russian hackers.

What did I bring to the table?

I discovered that Pavel Vrublevsky, who was under investigation in the FBI’s 2016 probe of hacking in the Presidential election, earlier run a company, RE Partners LLC , which shared an American address, a single family residence at 158-49 90th St in Howard Beach, Queens, with Blue Moon Group Inc , a company involved in pornography and cyber-crime.

That Blue Moon Group was led by Mike Muzio, a hapless Tampa Mobster later convicted in an “alt-right” stock fraud ring run by Andrew Badolato, business partner and longtime collaborator of Steve Bannon.

I exposed Muzio’s Blue Moon Group as a wholly owned subsidiary of GenesisIntermedia, which was wholly owned by Saudi ‘fixer’ Adnan Khashoggi.

I uncovered evidence that a Khashoggi-led transnational crime ring—featuring Bannon, Badolato, Muzio and Jonathan Curshen—operated out of Sarasota County, engaged in drug trafficking and multi-billion-dollar stock fraud.

I reported that Jonathon Curshen made a bid —on the eve of the seizure in 1998 of a company called YBM Magnex owned by Russian Mob Boss Semion Mogilevich—to snatch it from the hands of Canadian authorities and the FBI who were about to seize it and take it private.

Jonathon Curshen boasted dual U.S.-UK citizenship, and was in business with Sarasota grifter Andy Badolato,  Steve Bannon’s faithful minion. Perhaps equally important was the fact that Badolato’s grandfather had been in the same Fordham College class as Ronald Reagan’s campaign manager, who later became CIA Director, William Casey, the man who created The Enterprise.

Curshen later provided the pretext for a Khashoggi-linked company to buy two DC-9’s used in drug trafficking, one of which was caught carrying five tons of cocaine in 2006 Mexico’s Yucatan.

I unearthed the fact that the crew aboard the MSC Gayane had been supplied by China’s HNA Group, then teetering on bankruptcy.

When Steve Bannon was arrested for fraud in the Build the Wall scandal he was taken into custody aboard a $160 million dollar superyacht owned by a Chinese gangster, Guo Weng-hui, who had been Vice Chair of HNA Group until he reportedly absconded with billions.

I brought to light the fact that the crew aboard the MSC Gayane mainly hailed from Kotor, Montenegro, where Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska had recently opened a billion-dollar yacht club for the world’s elite.

Deripaska, who was very much the power behind the throne in Montenegro, had even launched an unsuccessful coup in the country.

Remember the incident during a G-20 meeting when Donald Trump—in an epic fit of boorishness—shoved a prime minister out of the way before a group picture?

The man Trump shoved was Montenegro’s prime minister, who–drat the luck!–had survived Oleg Deripaska’s coup attempt.

Was RussiaGate a hoax? Or is Donald Trump just a gifted liar?

Maybe reserve judgment a while. There’s more to come.Or just ask Matt Taibbi. He seems to have everything sorted out. Not

Daniel Hopsicker is an investigative journalist and the author of two books on transnational crime, Welcome to Terrorland and Barry & the Boys.