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U.S. 'Deeply Concerned' After Kyrgyz 'Crime Boss' Released From Detention


Kamchy Kolbaev

The United States says it is "deeply concerned" over the release from pretrial detention of a Kyrgyz organized-crime figure for whom Washington has offered a $1 million reward.

In a statement on March 3, the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek described Kamchy Kolbaev as a “transnational organized-crime boss” and a “convicted murderer whose criminal network engages in drug trafficking, human trafficking, arms trafficking, and other dangerous criminal activity.”

Kolbaev’s drug trafficking network “poisons children across Central Asia, Russia, and Europe," it quoted Ambassador Donald Lu as saying.

Kolbaev was detained in October 2020 on suspicion of organizing a criminal group and participating in the activities of an organized criminal group.

A spokeswoman at the Bishkek City Court told RFE/RL that the decision to change Kolbaev’s pretrial restrictions was made on March 2. She did not say why the decision was made.

The next day, the State National Security Committee (UKMK) said Kolbaev would be unable to leave the city of Cholpon-Ata.

The committee also announced a new criminal case had been opened against him on money-laundering charges.

Kolbaev’s relatives transferred around 20 percent of the total amount of money allegedly laundered -- more than 250 million soms ($2,950,000)-- to the state, it said, adding that the rest should be paid by the end of April, which marks the end of the investigation period.

In 2014, the U.S. State Department offered a reward of up to $1 million for information leading to the disruption of the financial mechanisms of Kolbaev's criminal network.

“In a recent meeting with the leadership of the State Committee for National Security, Ambassador Lu repeated the U.S. commitment to support the efforts of Kyrgyz law enforcement to investigate and prosecute Kolbaev,” the U.S. Embassy said in its statement.

The U.S. envoy “also conveyed Washington’s intention to increase the award offered for the disruption of Kolbaev’s criminal network, and to create an improved mechanism to allow Kyrgyz citizens to collect this reward in order to assist the Kyrgyz government to rid the country of the threat posed by Kolbaev’s crime syndicate.”

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