My new book is set in Bulgaria, a country that is the doorway to Europe for organised crime and, some would say, run by it.
I have met some of these gangsters known as Mutra, or ‘thicknecks,’ because the earliest post-Communist exponents were often former Olympic weight-lifters who went on to even weightier matters involving drug running, human trafficking, drive-by shootings and all manner of kidnappings and murder.
Today their glossier counterparts are commonly referred to as ‘businessmen,’ overseeing as they do the major insurance, security and real estate companies within webs of apparently innocent corporations.
In this excellent TED talk Misha Glenny speaks about these early Mutra as well as their ongoing influence and nefarious if highly lucrative activities. Misha is a journalist specialising in southeastern Europe, global organised crime and cyber security and wrote the original McMafia. This is well worth watching.