circles to have a criminal lineage that could be traced to Meyer Lansky, the mobster who once boasted that the Mafia was bigger than U.S. Steel. According to Brighton Beach gangster Vladimir Ginzberg, the Russian mobsters, out of deference, call the energetic, silver-haired Seidle Stariyk, the Russian word for "old man." (Seidle denies that he knew Lansky or has ever done business with organized crime.) Brent Eaton, a veteran DEA agent, says that Seidle has been under investigation by numerous federal agencies for more than twenty years, although he has never been indicted. "Bill Seidle is a great guy," William Lehman, a former Democratic congressman, told me. Lehman, who represented South Florida for twenty years, said Seidle "enjoyed Tarzan's out-rageousness. I've know Bill for fifty years and he's always run a kosher business. There are no blemishes."
Seidle took a shine to Tarzan the moment they met. "Tarzan was a boisterous, big-mouthed Yiddel," Seidle told me in a Yiddish drawl, one hot, buggy day in Miami. "He's a Jewboy, you know. Just a big-mouth kid, always bragging, boisterous, but very nice, very kind ... I would describe him as a very, very dear friend. I was close to him. He was close to our family. They loved Tarzan. They think a lot of him. They still feel the same."
It is apparent from this example that the Russian mobsters schmooze everybody they can, when it is in their interests. Bottom line though, they are the worst of the worst of criminals.
lights and a landing strip. Tarzan boasted to at least two government undercover agents that he was using aircraft to ferry in tons of marijuana from Jamaica. He allegedly even recruited his geeky-looking younger brother, Alex, to mule seven large, green garbage bags stuffed with marijuana from New York City to Porky's. "Alex was so afraid of being robbed that immediately after receiving the drugs, he spent the night in a New York City hotel rather than at his own home; he then drove the entire trip without stopping for the night because he was convinced that he would be apprehended carrying the drugs," asserts a federal wiretap affidavit.
Marijuana was, for Tarzan, a gateway drug. Before long, he had moved on to cocaine. At the time, the Russian Mafiya had little contact with the Colombian drug cartels, though they were eager to remedy that failing. Tarzan helped forge a connection, brokering cocaine deals between the Colombians and the most powerful mob family in St. Petersburg. In one instance, according to the DEA, he smuggled more than one hundred kilos of cocaine in crates of freeze-dried shrimp that were flown from Guayaquil, Ecuador, to St. Petersburg. He also ran coke directly out of Miami, a charge he hotly denies. The street price for cocaine in Russia was $60,000 per kilo; for every kilo, Tarzan made a thousand dollars.