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Desert Bandit

Russian mafia boss to be deported

Thai authorities are preparing to deport a Russian mafia boss whose name has been linked to more than 60 kidnappings and killings.

Alexander Matusov, 52, was arrested in front of a superstore in Chon Buri province on Monday. He officially faces charges in four murders.

Pol General Wuthi Liptapallop, the chief adviser to the Royal Thai Police, on Wednesday told a press conference that Matusov was the leader of Chelkovo (Desert Bandit) gang. "The gang has more than 100 members," he said.

According to Wuthi, the gang has committed various crimes ranging from extortion and contract killings to torture and kidnappings. The name had long inspired fear among businessmen, state officials, and many criminal gangs in Russia.

Chelkovo was reportedly active from 1995 to 2009 in Moscow, Tula, Saint Peterburg, and Leningrad. In 1996, it killed four members of a rival gang. The murders have led to the issuance of arrest warrants for Matusov and several accomplices. If convicted, Matusov will face up to 15 years in jail.

Wuthi said the Russian embassy here had asked Thailand to help in arresting the former mafia boss.

Matusov flew into Bangkok first on September 5, 2009 and later left for Cambodia via the Khlong Yai checkpoint. An arrest warrant for him was issued in 2010.


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