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07/08/2011

Leader of Armenian organized crime ring pleads guilty to racketeering

NEW YORK — An Armenian man has pleaded guilty to racketeering in connection with his involvement in the Mirzoyan-Terdjanian Organization — an Armenian-American organized crime enterprise engaged in a wide range of criminal activity. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Armen Kazarian, 47, pleaded guilty on July 8 to the charge. According to court documents, Kazarin was a "vor," a term translated as "thief-in-law." The term refers to a member of a select group of high-level criminals from Russia and the countries that had been part of the former Soviet Union, including Armenia. "Vors" offer prestige and protection to criminal organizations in return for a share of criminal earnings, and use their position of authority to resolve disputes among criminals. Kazarian admitted that he was a "vor" when he was arrested on racketeering charges in October 2010.

The indictment charged him with using his leadership position in the criminal community to assist the Mirzoyan-Terdjanian Organization. This organization has engaged in an extensive range of criminal activity, including the operation of a $100 million scheme to defraud Medicare.

Kazarian pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. In connection with his plea, Kazarian admitted his association with the Mirzoyan-Terdjanian Organization, along with engaging in extortion.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Southern District of N.Y., commended: ICE HSI; FBI; New York City Police Department; and the New York Office of the Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services for their work in the investigation.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer Burns and Arlo Devlin-Brown.