The boss of a notorious Estonia-based Russian drug trafficking gang who slept with an axe by his side has been arrested during a raid on his Spanish bolthole.
Vyacheslav Gulevich, also known by the alias Slava Kemerovsky, was held when armed police battered down the front door of his Malaga hideout while he was watching television dressed only in a garish pair of orange swimming shorts.
Gulevichm, who headed up the ruthless Kemerovo cartel, is said to be one of the most influential organised criminals in Estonia.
In a video posted online by Spanish police, who carried out the raid on Gulevich’s property as part of a joint operation with their counterparts in Estonia, officers can be seen bundling the drugs kingpin to the floor before handcuffing him and searching his villa.
Officers seized documents, a number of computers, a sum of cash, an axe and a large knife from Gulevich’s property, the latter two of which he kept under his pillow.
The crime boss was arrested last Wednesday while simultaneous raids in Estonia’s capital Tallinn resulted in the detention of three other senior Kemerovo members, including the group’s deputy leader.
One of the suspects held in Tallinn was said to be a martial arts expert who used the gym he ran to recruit “soldiers” for the gang.
All four men were taken into custody on suspicion of being involved in international drug trafficking, but Spanish police said the gang has been linked to numerous types of other illegal activity.
Police in Estonia had reportedly been hunting Gulevich for around two years before they tracked him down in Malaga, where was allegedly in the process of setting a Spanish base from which to coordinate drug smuggling and money laundering operations.
Spanish daily El Mundo speculated that Gulevich’s relocation to Spain might also have been motivated by the breakout of numerous conflicts between Russian organised crime groups in Estonia.
Detectives investigating the gang have arrested ten of its members over the past year after carrying out a series of raids during which computer equipment and documents were seized.
Police believe the arrest of Gulevich and his three colleagues will have left the gang unable to operate on an international scale.
The Kemerovo gang has been gripped by a bloody power struggle since its previous boss, Nikolai Tarankov, died after being shot in the head last September.
Gulevich acted as Tarankov’s right-hand man until he was killed, taking over the gang when his mentor died, but is said to have fled to Spain in fear his life.
The Kemerovo cartel has reportedly been involved in international drug trafficking since the 1990s, and is said to have extorted protection money from other major organised criminal gangs in Estonia.