Bulgarian Top Drug Lord Flees to Italy - Report

Crime | May 18, 2012, Friday // 12:24
Bulgaria: Bulgarian Top Drug Lord Flees to Italy - Report Drug boss Mityo Ochite (middle) is pictured being escorted to the courtroom. Photo by BGNES

Bulgarian drug boss Dimitar Zhelyazkov has found a safe refuge in Italy two months after he walked out of jail a free man, according to media reports.

Zhelyazkov, aka Mityo Ochite (i.e. the Eyes), known as the most powerful drug boss on Bulgaria's Black Sea, plans to move permanently abroad, together with his family, according to unconfirmed information.

He is believed to have settled in his new home in sunny Calabria, southern Italy.

Zhelyazkov's jail time was marked by a number of scandals – such as a light regime, regular releases to visit his close-ones, and a fistfight with another drug lord and jail mate.

In mid-July 2011, Bulgaria's Supreme Court of Cassations confirmed a ruling of the Burgas Appellate Court to extend by 18 months the sentence of the mafia boss.

By demanding that Zhelyazkov serve more time in jail, the Prosecutor's Office has practically abrogated his plea agreement with the defendant.

"Ochite's" gang was busted during the term of the previous cabinet. After being jailed, he had to part with most of his assets, which were seized by the State.

In 2008, Zhelyazkov was sentenced to 4 years and 10 months – below the minimum required by law - for heading an organized crime group specializing in drug distribution on the southern Bulgarian Black Sea coast.

Back then, Zhelyazkov's sentence was touted by the Three-Way Coalition government as a sign that it was cracking down on mafia bosses even though few, if any, such sentences of high-profile criminals have been seen since then.

In 2000-2007, Zhelyazkov had 7 sentences but somehow failed to spend much time in jail. If he had not made a deal with the prosecution, he could have been sentenced to up to 16 years in jail.

As the court in Pleven ordered his release from the Belene prison in January 2011, the Burgas prosecution demanded that his total sentenced be increased to 7 years and 3 months since he failed to obey his deal from 2008.

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Tags: Three Way Coalition, Mityo Ochite, Dimitar Zhelyazkov, organized crime, mafia, mafia bosses, drug boss, Supreme Court of Cassation, Burgas Appellate Court
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