The murky world of organised crime continues to be a source of inspiration for the entertainment industry. And for many films and television series – including the BBC’s McMafia and Tom Hardy’s Legend – London is the setting of choice. Of course, the city has a long history of organised crime. But it would be foolish to think that today’s con artists, gangsters and mafiosi are safely locked within the confines of a screen.
From drug smuggling to financial fraud, London’s portfolio of organised crime activities has actually been growing over the past decade. Organised crime groups’ main aim is to make money, and the city offers a million opportunities to accumulate and manage wealth – both legally and illegally.
The family business
In the past, the city of London has been home to many neighbourhood family firms: criminal fraternities with charismatic leaders and fearsome reputations, which are able to branch out into different criminal markets. Notorious crime families such as the Krays and the Richardsons had deep connections with certain parts of London.
Over the years, the activities of these family firms started to become increasingly “glocal” – that is, local in nature but global in reach. Between the 1930s and the 1990s, these firms were the only visible examples of organised crime in the city.
The local firm model still persists today, and over the past decades family run criminal enterprises have been growing their power and reach into the criminal markets in specific parts of the city. A famous example is the Adams family – also known as the Clerkenwell Crime Syndicate – which reportedly still operates in the North London area of Islington.
One of the syndicate’s leaders, Terry Adams, has been called the British Godfather. Although he was gaoled for seven years in 2007, the Adams family appeared to continue offering threats of violence while he was behind bars, as a means of holding onto their power and reputation in the neighbourhood – much like a mafia family would do.
To some extent, this is to be expected in a megacity like London – research paints a similar picture of crime in other European capitals. But the scale and diversity of the organised crime which takes place in the city can make it difficult to address.
In the early 1990s, when British authorities first looked seriously at organised crime in the UK, the Home Affairs Committee concluded that the only way to identify organised crime is by the old adage: “if it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, then it is a duck”. In the UK, organised crime has so many local variations that it can’t be clearly described as a national phenomenon.
The clearest examples of organised crime in this sense are transnational networks, which use London as a hub for their criminal activities. Currently, the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Metropolitan Police are cracking down on ethnic criminal groups in the city – specifically Albanian gangs in connection to the cocaine trade and Eastern European groups in relation to human trafficking.
But this approach contains echoes of an “alien conspiracy”, which blames migrants for threats to national security. According to this kind of thinking, organised crime is something which small groups bring into the country from outside – as opposed to a phenomenon arising from the legal, cultural and political norms within society itself.
To catch a criminal
Clearly, this argument is flawed: criminals from Albania count for only 0.8% or organised criminals in the country – as opposed to the 61.6% of crime that is ascribed to British citizens. Yet they are considered by the NCA to be more violent, and more closely connected to the international cocaine trade than British criminals.
For law enforcement agencies to combat organised crime effectively, they need to refocus their approach. London has long been seen as the “laundry of choice” for both local and foreign crime syndicates. But what makes it so appealing is the lack of regulation around the management of wealth in the city.
The airline employee who hijacked an empty Horizon Air turboprop plane from Seattle’s international airport and crashed it on a nearby island had security clearance and was on his shift, airline officials say.
The 29-year-old man, identified by the US media as Richard Russell, had worked for Horizon Air for more than three years, towing and tidying aircraft and loading bags.
Russell used a machine called a pushback tractor to manoeuvre the 76-seater Q400 Bombardier airplane so he could board and then take off from Sea-Tac International Airport on Friday evening.
Plane took off without permission.
The flight, which lasted for almost an hour, forced authorities to ground all flights at the airport while traffic control tried to persuade the man to land the plane. A number of F-15 fighter jets were scrambled out of nearby Portland, Oregon, to chase the aircraft.
After making “incredible manoeuvres,” the hijacker crashed the plane and was killed near a military facility on Ketron Island, a sparsely populated area in Puget Sound.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has agreed to a request by Iran’s judiciary chief to set up special courts to swiftly deal with financial crimes.
In a letter to Ayatollah Khamenei, Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani called for permission to set up the tribunals in the face of the current special economic conditions which he described as “an economic war.”
The Leader accepted the proposal on Saturday, saying, “The purpose [of the courts] should be to punish corrupt financial criminals swiftly and fairly.”
Ayatollah Khamenei also urged the judiciary to advise the courts to ensure the accuracy of their rulings.
Ayatollah Amoli Larijani proposed in his letter that new tribunals be set up for two years and directed to hand down maximum sentences to those “disrupting and corrupting the economy.”
“Given the current special economic conditions that are considered a kind of economic war and, unfortunately, some of those disrupting and corrupting the economy also provide for the enemy’s goals and commit crimes that require urgent and rapid action, if you see fit, please allow the head of the judiciary to act within the framework of the penal code … on those disrupting the economic system.
The letter requested that the trials be held in open court, but that any suspension or mitigation in the sentences of the convicts be prohibited.
It also demanded that all court rulings except the death penalty be final, with death sentences subject to appeal at the Supreme Court within a maximum 10 days.
The development comes in the wake of record devaluation of the rial which has lost nearly two-thirds of its value since the start of the year.
Dozens of people have been arrested for disrupting the forex and gold coins market. According to Tehran police chief General Hossein Rahimi, a man and his accomplices have been arrested for collecting two tonnes of gold coins over several months in order to manipulate the market.
Officials have attributed the currency market volatility to the enemies, saying they are out to destroy the country’s assets and instill disappointment among the public.
A sharp drop in the rial’s value prompted a registration flurry of new companies which have reportedly received government dollars at concessionary prices for imports but have sold them at inflated rates in the black market.
The situation arose after US President Donald Trump abandoned a landmark nuclear deal with Iran in May and announced the most restrictive sanctions on the Islamic Republic.