Катерина Меркова

Kateryna Myerkova

Image result for Kakha Rustavsky

Image result for Kakha Rustavsky

ABOVE + BELOW – Kakhaber Shushanashvili (Kakha Rustavsky) 

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Кахабер Шушанашвили (Каха Руставский)

BELOW – Home in Barcelona where Shushanashvili and Myerkova were living (106 Carrer de la Marina)
Дом в Барселоне (de la Marina, 106), где жили Шушанашвили и Меркова




Another step in this struggle was the recent arrest of 23 members of a gang led by thief-in-law Kakhaber Shushanashvili (Kakha Rustavsky) in different parts of Spain. Shushanashvili currently serves a term in a Spanish prison – in March 2016, Spanish National Court had sentenced him to 20 years and 11 months behind bars for a number of offences. In spring 2017, the Supreme Court of Spain has examined his appeal and reduced the prison term to 15 years and 3 months.

Kakha Rustavsky is believed to be the ‘godfather’ of ‘Georgian mafia’ not only in Spain, but throughout Europe. His organized criminal group specializes in the laundering of proceeds of various crimes, including thefts, drugs and weapons trafficking, and even contract killings.

45-year-old Kakhaber Shushanashvili was born in Rustavi, Georgia. In the early 1990s, he was sentenced for the first time to a three-year prison term for malicious hooliganism. In 2001, he was crowned. His older brother Lasha Shushanashvili (Lasha Rustavsky) is a thief-in-law as well. In the early 2000s, the both brothers have relocated to Europe and took control over Russian-speaking criminal groups operating there.

Shushanashvili junior arrived to Spain in 2008 with a Bulgarian passport in the name of Nicolai Kostov. Later police operatives have seized from him a Georgian passport in the name of Tamil Baramidze, a copy of a Lithuanian passport in the name of Anatoly Muchanov, and a copy of a driver’s license in the same name. Local resident Juan Miquela Tomillero became a thief’s guide in this new world; he worked as his driver and acted as an agent in all financial deals and other transactions involving governmental institutions. The name of Juan Miquela Tomillero was used to contract loans, register companies, and make major purchases requiring official documents, including vehicles (in total, some 40 cars) and apartments.

In addition, he had assisted Shushanashvili to contract a fictitious marriage with Barcelona resident Caparros Maria Jose Alonso in October 2010, thus, enabling the crowned thief to legalize himself in Europe. Later the investigation has found out that the woman had received €6 thousand for this service. It was noted that Shushanashvili had seen her only a few times in his entire life.

The real family life of Shushanashvili was linked with a totally different woman: he had lived in the central part of Barcelona with 32-year-old Ukrainian native Kateryna Myerkova. In 2009, she gave birth to twins. In the course of the last police operation, she has been detained as well.

Juan Miquela Tomillero was the official owner of such companies as Cabanda Advance, Viser World, Nixing Trade, and Lurtalia specializing in various spheres of business – from car washes to real estate sales and stock market investments.

Later the law enforcement authorities noted that the mobsters hadn’t bothered to create an illusion that the companies were operating in accordance with their profile. The story of Lurtalia was the most illustrative. The company had officially specialized in production of electronic components for engines. But in fact, it was shipping the above-mentioned parcels to Georgia. In several years, the company had repeatedly changed its legal address and name. It is now impossible to find a company with the name “Stn expres georgia paqueteria” in any directory. Neither does it have a web site – only two Facebook pages providing an address in Barcelona updated on a regular basis and the phone number of its office in Madrid.

The Spanish press reported that the chief treasurer of the gang was arrested in one of such ‘post offices’ during the most recent raid. Some outlets had claimed that Kateryna Myerkova was in charge of the European thieves’ pooled cash fund for the duration of her husband’s prison term. This is not true: Myerkova had received financial aid in the amount of €6 thousand per month from that fund “to make ends meet”. The speculations about her involvement with the thieves’ pooled cash fund were likely caused by the fact that she used to own 50% of Lurtalia shares.

In fact, Myerkova was a true comrade-in-arms for the thief-in-law, and this was not her first arrest. In 2010, she was detained together with Kakha in the course of another large-scale Europe-wide operation dubbed “Java”. It was carried out in Spain, Austria, Germany, Italy, France, and Switzerland and resulted in arrests of more than 80 people. At that time, she was charged with complicity in crimes committed by her husband. In turn, she had claimed that the father of her children was a totally different person – some Giorgi Nadiradze. Ultimately, the woman was released on bail in the amount of €20 thousand, while Kakha Rustavsky had faced a severe prison term.

Overseer of Europe

According to the case file, the Spanish law enforcement authorities had watched Shushanashvili since 2005. At that time, he was referred to in operational reports as “the leader of an organized criminal group acting in the interests of his older brother residing in Greece”. The influence of the two brothers has grown after the arrest of the main overseer of Europe – Zakhary Kalashov (Shakro Molodoy) – in 2006.

All this time, the law enforcement structures were collecting data on the gang structure, its financial flows, replenishments of its pooled cash fund, and usage of these funds. It was found out inter alia that the mafia’s mail service was used as a bank shipping cash in parcels. According to the Spanish special services, the monies were shipped to Georgia and Russia and then delivered to Kalashov.

It was also found out that the gang members were using false IDs with different names and nationalities and never registered vehicles in their own names. Overall, they tried to avoid unnecessary attention and acted very cautiously. The mafia had provided residence permits to the newly arrived gang members by signing labor contracts with them via its dummy companies.

For a long time, the law enforcement authorities had turned a blind eye to these operations – but after the first murders, Shushanashvili has finally been arrested. In March 2010, thief-in-law Vladimir Dzhanashia (Lado) was killed in Marseille, France. He was admitted to a Marseille hospital with seven gunshot wounds and succumbed to his injuries despite the medical aid.

The Spanish investigators have concluded that Shushanashvili was the mastermind behind this murder. The assassins have succeeded only at the third attempt. Initially, the crowned thief’s henchmen had arrived to Nice to dispatch Lado. However, the Spanish police had warned the French authorities, and the killers were arrested. A month later, an assassin had broken into Dzhanashia’s cottage and opened fire with a submachine gun – but Lado managed to escape to the second floor and leaped through a window. After such a close call, Dzhanashia has relocated to a Marseille suburb and rented a home under an assumed identity. He had hardly left his shelter, but despite all the safety measures, the assassin managed to track him down and kill.