Chief suspects in southern Russia slaughter detained

Russian police have arrested the suspected organizer of the slaughter of 12 people, including four children, in the country's southern Krasnodar region.

Seven other suspects, all members of a criminal gang, were also detained.

“We detained a leader of a criminal group suspected of organizing the murders of 12 people on November 5, “said Vladimir Markin from the Federal Investigative Committee. “As well as being an active member of this group, he is also suspected of being involved in this mass murder. We are conducting an investigation and gathering further evidence.”

Sergey Tsapok, who is alleged to be the mastermind behind hundreds of other bloody acts of terror, is an influential entrepreneur. A wealthy land owner, he is also alleged to have his own private army, disguised as a security firm.

Besides many unsolved murders and rape cases, the Tsapok gang is also suspected of racketeering.

The brutal mass killing shocked the nation and authorities have promised to do all it takes to bring to justice everyone responsible.

The number of victims, the fact there were children among them, as well as the way they were killed – with knives and razors – terrified many in the village. Everyone who knew these people is in deep shock.

Viktor Emelyanov used to work for the Ametov family. They were farmers, he says; really hard-workers.

“This is the head of the family – Serever, his wife Galina and daughter-in-law Elena with her little daughter Amira,” Viktor said, pointing at the fresh graves. “I just can’t believe it happened, and I don’t know who could do something like this.”

The bodies of the 12 victims were found in Ametov’s house. Investigators believe that the killers entered through the back door, literally slaughtering everyone who got in their way – the owners and their guests were there to celebrate National Unity Day. The hitmen tried to cover their tracks by burning the house down. But the flames went out.

Viktor Saliy was the first to arrive on the scene, but no one was alive by that time.

“I entered the house and I saw three dead bodies on the bed,” Saliy recalled. “Another person was lying on the floor, and there was a gas canister in the hallway.”

Investigators say the case resembles the gruesome murders of the 1990s, when racketeers used scare tactics to threaten farmers and entrepreneurs.

Many locals also tend to think that this was a contract killing that did not go according to plan. And while Serever Ametov, who was actively refusing to pay off local criminal bosses, may have been the target, his family and friends just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In the aftermath of the horror, fear still stalks the streets here with people afraid of being the next victims of rape or murder.

“Their neighbor was also killed not so long ago. He and his son were shot right on the porch of their home. Someone is in someone else's way,” Emelyanov added.

GBut corrupt law enforcers are also being blamed. Krasnodar Region governor Aleksandr Tkachev has sacked some of the regional police’s top brass, as well as local officials, and is linking the mass murder to other unsolved crimes.

“Today we arrested the gang members. Tomorrow we’ll continue by getting to those among law enforcement officers and local officials who were traitors,” Tkachev said.

Despite the fact that gang leaders are under arrest, some villagers believe that they still may get away with their crimes by using powerful connections in the capital.

But that, according to the governor, will not happen.

“I often hear that these people have backing from someone in Moscow, or in New York, or whatever. Trust me – if they get away with it, I will quit,” Tkachev said.

However, with many of the Tsapok gang members still at large, the tension remains high among the people of this southern Russian village. The shocked community wants justice: life behind bars for those responsible for a truly horrific crime.