KGB Meets BSO

In the '80s Soviet lawman Emin Gadzhiyev blew the whistle on corrupt colleagues and defected to the United States. Now he's training with the Broward Sheriff's Office. Someone should make a movie about this guy.

"Is Gadzhiyev an American success story, or a living security breach?" writes William Norman Grigg. "Might he be a 'sleeper' agent or an asset of a KGB-aligned mafia group?" Forwarded to the BSO a few months after Gadzhiyev was hired as a corrections officer, the article eventually wound up in his personnel file. Also in the file is a letter from Bill Leonard, a card-carrying member of the Birch Society, who mailed the article to then-sheriff Ron Cochran. "I have been studying the international communist conspiracy for years," writes Leonard. "The infiltration of every facet of American life by this conspiracy already has given them control of the administrative and judicial branches of our federal government…. They will stop at nothing to attain final control." In spite of such paranoid rhetoric, the questions Griggs brings up might be valid if only Gadzhiyev didn't have such solid credentials.

Before being granted political asylum in the United States in 1989, Gadzhiyev spent seven months in Munich, where he was hooked up to a polygraph machine while being poked and prodded by U.S. intelligence. He later worked on contract for a now-defunct CIA front company in Miami called Premier Executive Services, for whom he says he prepared a 400-page dictionary of Soviet counterintelligence terms. In addition he has assisted local and federal law-enforcement agencies in investigating cases involving organized crime figures from the republics of the former Soviet Union, and he is a sometime consultant to Fred Rustmann, a retired CIA agent who runs an international private investigation firm in West Palm Beach. Rustmann, whose company assists corporations with security issues overseas, says Gadzhiyev has been a sort of flashlight for him in the former Soviet Union. "Emin's been able to point us to the right people and tell us how best to deal with them," he explains. "The sheriff's office has got a serious guy who really knows the Russian mentality."

Among the references listed in Gadzhiyev's application for employment with the BSO are three FBI agents and a detective with the BSO's Strategic Intelligence Section. "Since May of 1994… [Gadzhiyev] has worked with me as a consultant and advisor regarding Russian organized crime in the United States as well as in Moscow, Russia," writes Det. Gary Dickinson in an extensive report prepared during the BSO's five-month background investigation. "I have found him to be credible, trustworthy and reliable as a consultant on sensitive investigations. There has never been any indication to the contrary." (Although Gadzhiyev's expertise on Russian organized crime was a likely factor in his hiring, no one at the BSO would speculate about his future prospects beyond regular patrol duty).

Ken Roberts tried to help turn former KGB officer Gadzhiyev's story into big-screen gold
Melissa Jones
Ken Roberts tried to help turn former KGB officer Gadzhiyev's story into big-screen gold
While her husband is on patrol, Irina Gadzhiyev will be busy marketing Pickled Purple Plums
Melissa Jones
While her husband is on patrol, Irina Gadzhiyev will be busy marketing Pickled Purple Plums

Joe Hess, who teaches defensive tactics at the BSO's Criminal Justice Institute, says Gadzhiyev was probably the most enthusiastic student in his class. "He was like a sponge," he recalls. "I mean, to go from handling these big high-tech cases to doing patrol work is not an easy transition. He's very knowledgeable and street savvy. Combining his experiences from two such different worlds will make him a real well-rounded officer."

Despite such accolades nothing about Gadzhiyev's career with the KGB is verifiable. His former partner is dead, and the remote, war-torn country of Azerbaijan, the former Soviet republic on the Caspian Sea where he grew up and spent most of his career, is in such a state of turmoil that tracking down information relating to events that transpired there more than a decade ago is now nearly impossible. In addition, with few other economic opportunities available, many of Gadzhiyev's former colleagues are now actively working for the bad guys. Still, he has passed muster with both the CIA and the BSO, both of which have put him through a battery of lie-detector tests. Also, experts say his egotistical impulse to get his story on film or in print is not at all unusual. "Every defector wants to write a book," says Bill Geimer, the head of the Jamestown Foundation -- an organization that, at the height of the Cold War, helped many high-ranking KGB defectors find their feet in the U.S. and in many cases line up book deals. "This guy's going to be a cop?" he asks. "I think that's a greatidea."

Sipping tea, Gadzhiyev bristles at the mention of the John Birch Society. "I am not one of those bloody KGB officers everyone talks about," he says abruptly. "I was basically a cop." Gadzhiyev is eager to dispel misconceptions about the Soviet security agency, a centralized monstrosity that was essentially the equivalent of the CIA, NSA, FBI, and INS rolled into one. With more than a dozen divisions under its umbrella, KGB headquarters in Moscow controlled spies overseas, border guards, counterintelligence officers like Gadzhiyev, and the infamous "thought police," who threw dissidents like Andrei Sakharov into gulags. Although he served time behind enemy lines in Afghanistan and occasionally engaged in espionage activities (he speaks five languages and spent time under cover in Italy), as the head of the organized crime division in Azerbaijan, Gadzhiyev was mostly involved in investigating actual crimes. Many of those crimes, he quickly found out, could be traced to corrupt high-ranking Communist Party functionaries, to the KGB itself, and even to the Kremlin. In many cases, Gadzhiyev claims, the corruption in the Communist Party was the precursor to the post-Soviet mobsters who have in the last decade become billionaires and are increasingly making their presence felt in South Florida.

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