In a 1999 interview (exact date unknown) with the BBC, former DEA and FBI agent Robert “Bob” Levinson warns that the United States has never seen the type of criminals that are coming in to the country today.
Levinson is appearing on an episode of the BBC program Panorama titled “The Billion Dollar Don.” It’s a special on Russian mafia boss and transnational organized crime leader Semion Mogilevich.
While at the FBI, Levinson pursued the world’s most wanted criminals. These ranged from murderers and sex traffickers to drug lords and nuclear arms dealers.
A year earlier, a high-ranking member of Russia’s FSB, Alexander Litvinenko, pulled back the curtain on Russia’s political apparatus and government institutions. Litvinenko called a press conference at which he and other federal agents — many disguised for protection — revealed that the country is entirely controlled by the Russian mafia and organized crime.
If Semion Mogilevich is the top of the Russian mafia, which controls the Russian government, then Mogilevich may be the most powerful man in the country.
Levinson’s warning echoes one years earlier from President Bill Clinton:
After September 11, 2001, law enforcement and the federal government drop most of their efforts to combat transnational organized crime. Their main focus becomes terrorism.
Levinson is captured and held hostage by Iran in 2007, just months after Alexander Litvinenko is poisoned. He dies in captivity years later.