Leo Messi's Russian Mafia neighbor

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The Barcelona neighborhood where the Argentine star and Luis Suárez reside is also home to a 'damned house'

09 de marzo de 2016 (19:54 CET)

What could seem like paradise isn't always so. The mountainous area in which Barça geniuses, Leo Messi and Luis Suárez have put down roots is a quiet, private neighborhood. But every rose has its thorns: there is a so-called 'damned house' almost next door, owned by another disturbing neighbor (Messi has had problems with other neighbors in the past). The property itself has an unsettling history: a burglar died whilst attempting to rob the house, and it was later used as a hideout for Tariel Oniani, one of the most powerful members of the Russian Mafia.

The owner's identity was revealed as part of 'Operation Wasp', a mass search carried out across Spain in which 30 people linked to the Russian Mafia were arrested. Police had been trying to dismantle the powerful clan headed by Onani, who was able to escape thanks to an opportune tip-off. His right hand men, however, were lost, including Malchas Tetruashvili (who was linked to then-CiU MP, Antoni Fernández Teixidó, and also ex-subdelegate of the government in Barcelona, Eduard Planells), and George Mikadze, husband of the secretary to then-Barça president, Joan Laporta.

Laport hired Mikadze as a middle manager of FC Barcelona. Among the others that were arrested was Mikhail Mdrinaradze, Zakhar Kalashov's right hand man; the head of the Mafia to whom the gauntlet was thrown years later in Dubai. The operation established the bases for the later Operation Troika, which brought down dons Gennadios Petrov (Mallorca), Alexander Malyshev (Málaga) and Vitali Izgilov (Alicante).

Prostitution and money laundering

The band controlled an intricate network of companies, dedicates as much to carrying out legal business as they were to laundering money. One of the operating bases was situated right next to the house the Messi purchased. The occupant, a man close to Oniani, controlled a well-known local nightclub located on the Castelldfels highway, close to the famous Riviera.

The house, however, was entered one morning during the early hours by the police, who found an abundance of money, and even an assault rifle believed to be a weapon of war.

Knives

These measures saved the house's lodgers (one of Oniani's trusted companions, who had been using the mansion together with his wife and daughter) some nasty surprises: shortly before the police operation, a robber attempted to access the inside of the building.

The alarms went off and the Russian owner came face to face with the burglar on the balcony, armed with a large kitchen knife. A struggle took place, and the assailant was stabbed, falling to the garden where he died as a result of his injuries. This was the prologue to a police operation that uncovered the fact that one of Eastern Europe's largest criminal organizations was operating in Spain.

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