Georgian boxer Avtandil Khurtsidze was supposed to fight Englishman Billy Joe Saunders next month for the WBO middleweight title, but he can’t make the fight anymore. He just got arrested in connection with an FBI sting on an alleged Russian/Georgian organized crime syndicate.
The Justice Department announced yesterday that the FBI’s New York Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force had rounded up and arrested 33 members of the Shulaya Enterprise, including the organization’s boss, Razdhen Shulaya, and charged them with conspiracy as part of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. Also on the list of defendants is Levan Makashvili, a professional MMA fighter who spent time with the UFC.
Khurtsidze currently holds the interim WBO middleweight title. Makashvili had three fights in the UFC featherweight division before leaving the promotion. Both men were born in Georgia but fight out of New York. Khurtsidze blamed the whole thing on a “very serious misunderstanding,” and said he was still preparing for his fight with Saunders, which has already officially been called off. According to the Justice Department’s press release, the Shulaya Enterprise was allegedly involved in a stunning range of activities, including massive chocolate theft.
The dizzying array of criminal schemes committed by this organized crime syndicate allegedly include a murder-for-hire conspiracy, a plot to rob victims by seducing and drugging them with chloroform, the theft of cargo shipments containing over 10,000 pounds of chocolate, and a fraud on casino slot machines using electronic hacking devices.
Both men face a maximum penalty of 20 years if convicted. You can read the unsealed indictment below.