The Aramov Clan's criminal operations are tightly controlled by elderly matriarch Irena Aramov, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2009.

Irena's son Leonid is her most likely successor as clan head. However he has a reputation for violence and poor business decisions.

Lev and Irena Aramov were among the first people to realize the value of military equipment which was left to rot following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Already a successful black market trader in the communist era, Lev began acquiring disused military cargo planes and using them to transport goods and people across Russia and Central Asia.

When Lev died in an aircraft accident in 1996, his widow Irena took over the business, expanding the fleet of aircraft and moving into more lucrative work smuggling drugs and illegal immigrants.

By 2006, Irena Aramov's fleet had become a huge criminal network and the courier of choice for everything from Afghani heroin, to anti-aircraft missiles and plane loads of illegal immigrants.

 

As big as Great Britain, but with a population of just 5 million, the Central Asian Republic of Kyrgyzstan is one of the world's least known countries.

Kyrgyzstan suffers from crushing poverty, with 30% unemployment and average income per person lower than central Africa.

Its pivotal location between China, Russia and India makes Kyrgyzstan an ideal location for smuggling over land.

There are abandoned Soviet airbases throughout the country suitable for air operations, while the mountainous terrain makes it virtually impossible to track a skillfully piloted aircraft.

Estimates of Aramov Clan wealth range from a hundred million US dollars, to more than four billion dollars.

Most experts put the figure somewhere between $500 million and $1 billion.

Although individual planes and cargos have been seized, careful use of front companies and powerful political and military connections inside Russia, China and Kyrgyzstan have made the Aramov Clan virtually untouchable.
The Aramov Clan's ability to smuggle drugs, people and weapons across the globe depends on a fleet of at least sixty cargo aircraft.

In recent years the clan has taken steps to buy newer aircraft from China and the west, but the backbone of it's fleet continues to be dilapidated ex-Soviet planes, some more than forty years old.

The Aramovs' main air base and maintenance facility, known as 'The Kremlin,' is an ex-Soviet airbase in a remote area of Kyrgyzstan, a hundred kilometres east of Bishkek.

Aramov planes fly throughout the world, carrying the liveries of numerous front companies. There are thought to be sizeable Aramov owned operations in Columbia, Hungary and the UAE.