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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Mayo Mafia Finds Cream Doesn't Pay

The Stolichny salad eaters of Moscow can rest easy in their beds tonight -- the Izmailovo Mayonnaise Mafia has been brought to justice.

Bootleg mayonnaise makers who have been at large since the beginning of May, the mayo mafia had flooded the Izmailovo and Zhulebino food markets with major deliveries of suspiciously cheap mayonnaise, said the Directorate of Economic Crime's press spokesman Alexander Kochubey.

After a two month intensive surveillance operation, the illegal mayonnaise workshop was raided last week and the salad cream criminals apprehended.

"It's a criminal offense to produce this type of food product without the proper licenses," said Kochubey. "The mayonnaise has been sent for medical analysis to check whether it's fit for human consumption. We already know that it contained only 25 percent fat, as opposed to the regulation 65 percent."

The mayonnaise may have been illegal, but it proved a hit with the consumers of Iz vat in a cellar rented from the Izmailovo Gardening Institute. Working through the night from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m., a team of six mayonnaise makers from Ukraine mixed sunflower oil, milk powder, mustard, sugar and salt with the help of a giant electric whisk, pouring out the end product by hand into jars and sealing the foil tops with a canning machine.

"The jars looked genuine. No one noticed the difference. We had no complaints," said a spokesman for the Izmailovo market administration, who did not give his name. "It was cheap, so people bought it."

It was a cunning operation, but not cunning enough to escape the eagle eyes of the directorate, whose investigators noticed that mayonnaise jar tops bearing the legend "Moscow Fat Factory" had been ordered in bulk from metal workshops in Moscow and nearby Noginsk. Following the trail of the foil tops, they pinpointed, followed and, last week, apprehended the mayonnaise mastermind at Zhulebino market.

The 27-year-old Ukrainian -- whose identity police did not reveal -- cracked under "questioning" and disclosed the location of his secret factory. When police raided the subterranean workshop, owned by the Revanche company, they caught the six mixers and confiscated 150,000 jars of mayonnaise.

"He will now face charges of production of false consumer goods," said Kochubey. "He's now out on bail, but many of these cases do not come to court. If and when it does, he will probably be fined."

The employees of Revanche have not been charged.

No cases of food poisoning have been traced to the offending mayonnaise, said Dr. Vitaly Mikhailov of the Izmailovo district hospital. "Usually, products like mayonnaise which contain dairy products and eggs are particularly vulnerable to bacterial infection," said Mikhailov. "But if this mayonnaise was made without fresh eggs, cream or milk, it could be safer ... maybe safer than real mayonnaise you buy in the shops."

When not apprehending falsifiers of popular salad dressings, the Directorate of Economic Crimes also deals with bank fraud, stealing of government property and the regulation of markets.

"Our operational methods are sophisticated, and my colleagues have very extensive experience in dealing with this sort of crime," said Kochubey of the mayo sting. "Rest assured that the rights of consumers are safe in our hands."

-- formerly the Directorate of Theft of Socialist Property --