Bulgarian Police Bust 3rd 'Killer' Gang

Crime | February 21, 2011, Monday // 08:58|  views

Petar Stoyanov, aka the Chieftain, was arrested during the first "Killers" special police operation and has been left behind bars on organized crime charges involving murder for hire. Photo by BGNES

Bulgarian Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, announced early Monday that arrests of a 3rd gang dealing with plotting and executing murders was imminent.

The 3rd "Killer" group has three members. They are suspected of killing a criminal in 2000 and throwing his body in a dam along with a murder attempt on a notorious and well-known drug kingpin, Tsvetanov says.

On July 23, in the first "Killers" special ops, Bulgaria's police arrested about 20 men.

The operation was carried out by the police, DANS, and the Sofia City Prosecutor's Office in connection with the murder of the controversial Samokov football club president Yuriy Galev.

The President of the Bulgarian Sumo Federation Petar Stoyanov aka the "Chieftain" was among those detained.

Petar Stoyanov is a leading figure in the Bulgarian sumo world. He has a silver and two bronze world medals in amateur sumo. The "Chieftain" is also a close friend to Bulgaria's best sumo wrestler Kotooshu. The "Chieftain" has denied any connection to organized crime.

Tsvetanov announced at the time a known criminal, Yanko Popov aka Tutsi, had ordered the murder of Yuriy Galev while the President of the Bulgarian Sumo Federation was one of the organizers Galev's murder. The other person ordering the murder was identified by the Minister as Vasil Kostov aka Vasko Ketsa (The Sneaker), who had also organized the murder of Shumen businessman Rumen Rashev.

Another known criminal, Metodi Ivanov, had been the keeper of the gun with which Galev was murdered. The actual shooter was identified as Georgi Petkov aka Damchi.

Part of the group members are also connected to some other high-profile mafia killings in the recent past, Tsvetanov said, but did not offer more details.

In July, the 24 Chasa (24 Hours) daily published an article informing the "Killers" received an order for Prime Minister Boyko Borisov's assassination about 6-7 months ago, citing sources from the investigation. The Interior Minister declined commenting.

Tsvetanov, however, has hinted the "Killers" may be behind the slaying of Bulgaria's top banker Emil Kyulev. Emil Kyulev, one of the richest men in Bulgaria, was shot and killed in 2005. His murder was particularly shocking because he did not fit the profile of an underworld boss.

At the end of July, the Bulgarian Court of Appeals ruled to release on bail four out of the five over lack of evidence that they were connected to Galev's murder. Ivanov was the only one to stay in detention.

All four were later rearrested in connection to other cases.

The "Chieftain" remains behind bars in the jail in the city of Shumen. He is investigated for several murders, including Galev's.

The "Killers 2" gang is, allegedly, led by Yosif Yosifov and plotted the murders of the well-known criminal Hristo Varbanov aka the Pope and Roma leader, Tsvetelin Kanchev.

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Tags: Petar Stoyanov, Chieftain, Killers, Shumen, Sofia District Court, Yuri Galev, Murder, plot, Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Yosif Yosifov


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