Outlaws Inc.: Under the Radar and on the Black Market with the World's Most Dangerous Smugglers [NOOK Book]

Overview

This riveting account reveals the secret corners of our supposedly flat world: black markets where governments are never seen but still spend outrageous amounts of money. Journalist Matt Potter tells the story of Yuri and his crew, a gang of Russian military men who, after the collapse of the Soviet Union found themselves without work or prospects. So they bought a decommissioned Soviet plane-at liquidation prices, straight from the Russian government-and started a shipping business. It wasn't long before Yuri, ...

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Outlaws Inc.: Under the Radar and on the Black Market with the World's Most Dangerous Smugglers

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Overview

This riveting account reveals the secret corners of our supposedly flat world: black markets where governments are never seen but still spend outrageous amounts of money. Journalist Matt Potter tells the story of Yuri and his crew, a gang of Russian military men who, after the collapse of the Soviet Union found themselves without work or prospects. So they bought a decommissioned Soviet plane-at liquidation prices, straight from the Russian government-and started a shipping business. It wasn't long before Yuri, and many pilots like him, found themselves an unlikely (and ethically dubious) hub of global trading. Men like these are paid by the U.S., the Taliban, and blue-chip multinational companies to bring supplies- some legal, some not-across dangerous borders.


In a feat of daring reportage, Potter gets onto the flight deck with these outlaws and tells the story of their fearless missions. Dodging gunfire, Potter is taken from place to place by men trafficking everything from illicit weapons to emergency aid, making enemies everywhere but no reliable friends. As the world changes, we see the options for the crew first explode, then slowly diminish, until, in a desperate maneuver, they move their operations to the most lawless corners of Africa, where they operate to this day.


The story of these outlaws is a microcosm of the world since the end of the cold war: secret contracts, guerrilla foreign policy, and conflicts too thorny to be handled in public. Potter uses the story of these men to articulate an underground history of the globalized world. At once thrilling, provocative, and morally circumspect, this book is a must-read for anyone with an interest in espionage, or in how the world works today.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
One of globalization's seamier corners—the shadowy network of Russian aviators flying rattletrap cargo planes full of contraband to the world's hellholes—is poked with a stick in this colorful exposé-cum-adventure story. BBC correspondent Power flies along with "Mickey" and his crew of Soviet Air Force vets in their Ilyushin-76 transport plane, a model prized for its secret cargo holds that customs officials never check. The crew and their ilk go everywhere there's money to be made, legal or not: they transport building supplies, generators, and heroin in Afghanistan, humanitarian aid and blood diamonds in Africa, cocaine in Latin America, and arms almost everywhere. It's a story rife with ironies—the same flight, the author notes, could carry U.N. food for refugees and Kalashnikovs for the militias who destroyed their homes—which Potter traces upward to the hypocrisies of financiers and governments. But the book's heart is his vivid, atmospheric reportage on the hungover flyboys who subject their planes—held together more with duct tape than rivets—to potholed airstrips, crazed aerobatics, and ground fire. Through the dissolute romanticism peeks an arresting glimpse of an airborne proletariat desperate for a risky paycheck. 8 pages of b&w photos. (Aug.)
Library Journal
When communism collapses, some Russian military men buy a decommissioned Soviet plane for mere kopeks, then launch a shipping business. Soon they're crisscrossing borders with everything from illegal weapons to emergency aid, working for the Taliban, the U.S. government, and various global corporations. When demand slows, they move their operations to Africa. Okay, 0 true. Widely published British journalist Potter traveled with these risk-takers for a time so that he could tell their story. This should be great narrative nonfiction reading.
Kirkus Reviews

Engrossing examination of the role of ex-Soviet air crews in post–Cold War smuggling and global instability.

London-based BBC Radio reporter Potter deftly summarizes the impact of the Soviet military's sudden dissolution, which left a stockpile of useful military equipment at the disposal of black markets. One of the most significant was the Il76, "one of the biggest planes on the planet." Ever since, these aging yet rugged planes, and the men trained to fly them, have been instrumental in facilitating both globalization of capital and brutal discord, particularly via their unique capacity for smuggling. His intermittent travels with "Mickey" and crew, veterans of the Soviets' Afghan war, form the book's overall structure. In Potter's opinion, these hapless and evasive yet stoic and skilled aviators provide a ready metaphor for what happened to the world geopolitically after the USSR's dissolution—as Mickey puts it, "we flew [an Il-76] down to Kazakhstan and, you might say, rebranded." When faced with sudden privation, these ex–military men began transporting goods ranging from disaster aid and soldiers to drugs, weapons and blood diamonds all over the world, particularly in Africa and Asia. Potter is fascinated by Mickey's shadowy existence, which is both dangerous—there have been numerous suspicious crashes of Russian aircraft—and a key component of the so-called "grey market," in which legitimate entrepreneurs and aid organizations interact with the transnational criminal syndicates that grew with the breakup of the Soviet Union. Potter shadows Mickey's crew through Afghanistan, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Central America, the Congo and Uganda, at once entertained by the exploits and keyed in to their relevance to profound crises. The book reads more like a novel than straight journalism. The personalized narrative is taut and funny; Potter's prose strains, often successfully, to be ornate and haunting in portraying the doomed, absurdist lot of the airmen—though he tends to repeat these tropes.

An exciting yet disturbing look at a dark corner of current geopolitics.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781608195398
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 8/1/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 230,413
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Matt Potter is a journalist, editor and broadcaster. He has reported for BBC Radio from Eastern Europe, Afghanistan and Southeast Asia, and co-presented Radio 1's award-winning global travel shows. As a journalist, his nose for the unusual has seen his writing appear in places as diverse as the Daily Telegraph, Golf Monthly, Esquire, Sunday Telegraph, Jack, Maxim, the Irish Examiner and Q, and his stories on cocaine trafficking in Latin America have been published in Russian, Spanish and English. As a journalist in Belgrade, he broke the story of the NATO 'spy' giving away secrets to Serb forces on the web. He speaks a handful of languages but attempts to speak at least twenty more. Matt is 39 and lives in London.
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Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Part I Good Men Are Hard To Find: The Crew

1 The Devil's Greatest Trick: Over Kabul 5

2 What Am I Doing Here? Serbia, 1998 16

Part II Everything You Know is Wrong: The USSR

3 The Lost Boys: Soviet Union, 1992 23

4 The Machine: Post-Soviet Russia, Early 1990s 34

5 The Birth of the Global Network: Russia, 1993 47

6 The Warlord Is Always Right: The Caucasus, 1994 55

7 Rogue State: Yugoslavia, 1994-1996 64

Part III Gold Fever: The Middle East And Africa

8 The Men with No Names: The Arab Gulf, 1995-1997 79

9 This Is How You Disappear: West Africa, 1995-1999 94

10 Plunder in the Jungle: The Congo, 1997-2000 106

11 Men of Wealth and Taste: Millan, 2000 117

Part IV High and Wild: Afghanistan To Iraq

12 The Boys Are Back in Town: Afghanistan, 2001 129

13 Afghan Black: The Drug Pipeline, 2002-2010 144

14 There Are Huge Forces: Afghanistan, 1995 and 2010 152

Part V Back to the Jungle: Central America and the Horn of Africa

15 High Times on the Costa Coca: Central America, 1999-2008 167

16 Welcome to Little Minsk: Africa, 2003 175

17 Russian Rain Keeps Falling: The Congo, 2005-2009 187

18 Just Drop the Cash out of the Plane: Uganda, 2009 207

19 Getting Your Kicks on Route Il-76: Central Asia and the Caucasus, 2009 226

Part VI The Journey Home: East Africa and Russia

20 The Ghost Factory: Russia, 2008 253

21 Death and Taxes: Entebbe to Ekaterinburg, 2010 263

22 The Gathering Darkness: Russia, 2010 276

Author's Note 297

Acknowledgments 301

Bibliography 303

Index 309

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(6)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

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1 Star

(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2011

    Great Premise, poorly written

    This book could have been exciting - instead it circles its point for 300 pages. It is basically the same information presented over and over, with about 5 interesting vignettes in the entire book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2014

    War Torn and Alex's Fight

    None lethal weapons and no killing. The environment: Simple empty market area

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2014

    War torn

    Waits to fight anyone

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2014

    Stanton

    Yes....

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2014

    FIGHTING PEN

    A boxing ring for those who wish to get out some pent up anger towards certain individuals.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 8, 2012

    Situationally Relevant

    I read this book waiting in the shade while watching colorful Il-76s land in an ugly, dusty place. I enjoyed it but found it was somewhat plodding at times. Although informationally useful, it would've been a more enjoyable read with better character development, including the author, and the inclusion of more anecdotes, better fleshed out.

    Still, I greatly appreciate Mr. Potter's efforts in terms of explaining the origins and operations behind these amazing airplanes and their crews.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 31, 2012

    This is somewhat of a link between the whole spy and mercenaries

    This is somewhat of a link between the whole spy and mercenaries worlds that imho has not been covered, and I found it all the more interesting for that, some pretty mindblowing discoveries in these pages, for instance the way charities and the US govt seem to be turning a blind eye to the arms smuggling trade and even use it to their own nefarious ends. Investigation pure and simple with evidence and adventureWhat can I say read the book and judge for yourself

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews

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