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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06SOFIA276
2006-02-23 16:03:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Sofia
Cable title:  

BIGTIME SMUGGLER, MONEY LAUNDERER GUNNED DOWN IN

Tags:   PREL  KCRM  ASEC  BU 
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VZCZCXRO6688
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSF #0276 0541603
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 231603Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY SOFIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1494
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUCNFB/FBI WASHINGTON DC 0130
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SOFIA 000276 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/23/2016
TAGS: PREL KCRM ASEC BU
SUBJECT: BIGTIME SMUGGLER, MONEY LAUNDERER GUNNED DOWN IN
SOFIA

Classified By: Ambassador John Beyrle for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SOFIA 000276

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/23/2016
TAGS: PREL KCRM ASEC BU
SUBJECT: BIGTIME SMUGGLER, MONEY LAUNDERER GUNNED DOWN IN
SOFIA

Classified By: Ambassador John Beyrle for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: One of Bulgaria's biggest contraband
dealers and money launderers, Ivan Todorov (a.k.a. the
Doktor), was shot dead in broad daylight in central Sofia
February 22. The killing of Todorov shattered a three-month
period of calm since the October murder of controversial
banker Emil Kyulev. Todorov's assassination coincided with
the EU's review of the highly charged Justice and Home
Affairs chapter and Bulgaria's effectiveness at combating
crime. It also comes one day before the new Prosecutor
General, Boris Velchev, was to be sworn into office. Todorov
was scheduled to face charges for money laundering in March
in what could have been the government's first conviction of
a major organized crime figure. END SUMMARY.


2. (C) Todorov was shot dead in his car around 2 p.m. on a
busy street in Sofia not far from the U.S. Embassy. According
to our legal attache, the murder clearly was a professional
hit and extremely well planned. Todorov's Porsche Cayenne was
blocked by another vehicle and sprayed with bullets by two
assailants, who later fled the scene. Todorov died on the
spot))examiners found over 10 bullets in his body--while
his driver was rushed to the hospital in critical condition.
The police have at least five witnesses to the crime and a
partial description of the license plate of the fleeing car.
Authorities have issued a physical description of the two
assailants and immediately initiated searches of vehicles and
stores around the city following the shooting.


3. (C) Todorov was considered to be one of the largest drug
traffickers in the Balkans and actively involved in cigarette
smuggling and tax evasion. In the early 90s, he became
involved with a small criminal group that was associated with
illicit trade and robberies. He later worked for a Syrian
citizen who was operating the drugs and arms smuggling
channels during the Communist regime. In 2004 Todorov was
convicted of kidnapping and robbing a businessman and was
sentenced to five years in prison. The sentence, however,
was recently overturned by the Supreme Cassation Court.
Todorov allegedly was being targeted by the Marinov
brothers))two of the surviving members of the organized
crime group SIC who were arrested last November and are still
in jail. Todorov and three of his associates were due to
appear in court in March to face charges of money
laudering))a case which our legatt and the FBI have been
working jointly on with the Bulgarians for some time.


4. (SBU) Todorov was virturally unknown to the general public
until a failed attempt on his life in April 2003 brought him
into the spotlight. Todorov survived an explosion from a car
bomb planted on his Mercedes on one of Sofia's main
thoroughfares. The device killed Todorov's driver instead who
by chance had switched seats with Todorov who was driving the
vehicle. The attempted killing became a political scandal
after pictures found in the car showed Todorov on a yacht in
Monaco playing cards with Finance Minister Milen Velchev, the
former Transport Minister Plamen Petrov and parliamentary
deputy Miroslav Sevlievski.


5. (C) COMMENT: The killing of Todorov has denied the
government its best chance so far of successfully prosecuting
a major Bulgarian crime figure. It also shines an
embarassing spotlight on Interior Minister Petkov's weak
scorecard of success in fighting organized crime since the
Kyulev killing. Ambassador Beyrle met with Petkov shortly
after Todorov's killing, pressing him to ensure the
investigation leads to results (unlike the Kyulev murder).
The initial signs appear promising, according to our Legatt,
with the Todorov crime scene being properly secured and the
police doing their best to coordinate their efforts with
prosecutors. Authorities are being more cooperative than
during the Kyulev investigation and invited Legatt to join a
high-level review of the initial stages of the investigation,
but they have yet to accept our offers for technical
assistance with the case. END COMMENT
Beyrle