Is the "Russian Mob" really as dangerous and pervasive as they are on TV?

Over the past several years, several TV dramas have had “Russian Mob” storylines. According to these plots, they are incredibly ruthless–so much so that they have assassinated witnesses in full view of the police, killed anyone who’s gotten in their way (along with every member of the victim’s family), and generally thumbed their noses at law enforcement in general.
I know TV exaggerates to make for a better story, but other things I’ve read tell me that this isn’t all that far from the truth. So, are they really as bad as they are portrayed? And, if so, what’s to stop them from taking over the country?

My (admittedly, uneducated) guesses?

First off, they are confined to, well, Russians, which dramatically limits their reach. Second, the country is not nearly as unprepared for gang violence or influence as it one was (and in any case, the Russians are far more flagrant than the Mafia were or are). Third, they have a lot of competition - act too nasty, and there are a lot of other gangs around to take you down a few notches.

And finally - there are simply very few of them.

No, not really. They are gangsters and you definitely don’t want to mess with them, they supply the majority of the Ecstasy on the market in NYC. I’ve known a couple of guys who dealt with them.

Something to understand about gangsters is that they are inherently lazy. It underlies what makes people want to be criminals. They try to make the most money with the least effort. That is generally what keeps them from taking things over.

Generally the Italian Mob wasn’t as nasty as the TV portrays either, though according to people I know who know Jersey mobsters the Sopranos is quite accurate.

The real mafias in this country that are truly scary are the Mexican Cartels and MS13 the Salvadoran Mafia. They are violent on a whole other level though they keep their violence within their sphere of influence as do most gangsters.

I don’t personally know any Russian mobsters though I’ve hung out with Mexican Bloods in New Mexico and Italian Mafia in NY/NJ.

smiling bandit I don’t know that the Russian Mafia is actually more flagrant than the Italian one. I’ve lived in Brooklyn for a number of years over the past decade and had Russian friends and knew people who got their E from the Russians in Brighton Beach and there wasn’t THAT much that was truly flagrant. I caught snippets of info but they seem to be about doing business and keeping it low key.

Great. Even organized crime is outsourcing to third world countries.
I’m in Hoboken, NJ now, so for us it’s Italian Mob or nothin’!

I spent an evening with some undercover IRS agents many years ago (early 90s) and one of the things we discussed was this very topic.

The way one of them put it was that if their cover was blown when working with the Italian mafia, the gangsters would just let the deal fall apart and then try to kill them later.

However, if the Russians figured them out, it was likely the mafia would try to kill them immediately on the spot, not caring at all whether the next room over was full of police monitoring the sting.

So, that’s not first hand knowledge, but not it’s not something I read in a book or saw on TV either. Were the agents making it up or exaggerating? Don’t know - but it’s all I got.

Well, I can’t speak about the Russians (as I mentioned above with my WAG, but the Mafia doesn’t normally try to kill IRS agents, even those trying to make a sting. Or any federal agents. It tends to bring down heat a lot worse than a doing a little time or fines for tax evasion. I know, it’s ironic, but few mobsters are actually violent.

Historically the Russian mob has been able to operate in more flagrant manner in Russia. While on there own turf they’ve been able to get away with many things through influence or corruption. The communist government had many cases where they bought into the mob to get things done avoiding the normal bureaucracy. So in Russia they could get away with murder because in some cases their own government was paying them to do it. In Russia they could be truly ruthless in some cases their reputation may even be understated.

While Russian mob members may not operate the same in other countries the reputation remains intact. In the criminal world reputation goes along way.

And if it were the Mexicans, and the informant somehow survived and made it to the hospital, the gangsters would come after him there and kill the nurses and doctors on the way to his room.

I think that’s what mswas meant by saying they were on another level of violence.