Federico Vares, La Stampa, 2013 - One exceptional event that changed the way that global organized crime works in the last 25 years was the collapse of the Soviet Union. The departure of the Red Army from Afghanistan in 1989 allowed it to become the world's largest producer of heroin. The democratisation of Burma could have the same effect, leading to the potential increase in the production of heroin and amphetamine in the "Golden Triangle": Burma, Vietnam and Laos. Today, the drugs produced in Burma supply the ever growing Chinese market. As ever, rampant crime and economic development go hand in hand.
Not only did the fall of the USSR have a huge effect on world drug trafficking, it led to the emergence of the Russian mafia, which dominates many important aspects of daily life of both the post-Soviet state as well as crime networks in other countries too. For example, during the late 1990's, the most powerful mafia group that emerged from the ashes of the Soviet Union was the Solntsevskaya Bratva from Moscow, who counted on a boss in Rome to coordinate the Russian operations in Italy. In addition to the lack of cooperation from Russian police during investigations, the most shocking aspect that emerged from a survey conducted on Italian police for this story was how the role of the banks facilitated the transfer of dirty money. Respectable Western bankers gave Russian mob bosses useful tips on how to transfer the money in a legal way from Russia to the rest of Europe.