Gang killings rise as rackets spread

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN'S GROWING network of organised criminals is becoming increasingly violent, committing at least 28 murders last year, according to a report sent to ministers and police chiefs. White old-style "family" gangs top the league of Britain's most powerful criminals, followed by Turkish heroin traffickers and West Africans specialising in fraud.

The National Criminal Intelligence Service found that in 1998 organised criminals murdered 28 people, 20 of whom were killed in disputes over drugs and two were classified as "political" hits against rival mobsters. Sixteen of the victims were white, 10 were black, and two were Mediterranean. The 1998 death toll rose from 1997 and is expected to increase significantly again this year.

The service's report, entitled The Threat from Serious and Organised Crime to UK Security and Interests, included the results of a survey of the country's top 200 criminals.

It found that a third had used violence and intimidation against their own gang members and their families, and a similar proportion terrorised members of the public. A third was also found to have tried to corrupt the police. The most dominant group is the white family-based criminals, most of whom are based in the South- east of England, who put their efforts into drug trafficking, protection rackets and alcohol and tobacco smuggling.

The next most significant group are the Turks, mostly based in north London, who control 90 per cent of the heroin trade in the. The third most profitable outfit, the study concluded, are the West African, mainly Nigerian, criminals who specialise in fraud. The Hong Kong and mainland Chinese Triad gangsters are the fourth most influential group, concluded the report.

Other groups considered to pose a medium threat are Colombian cocaine traffickers; Indian and Pakistani gangs who specialise in heroin dealing and illegal immigration; and the former Soviet Union gangsters, involved in money laundering and prostitution.

Irish gangs, who buy heroin particularly from the North- west of England to sell in Dublin, and the Italian Mafia, who are involved in tobacco smuggling, were classified as small-scale racketeers.

John Abbott, director gener-al of the service, said: "The threat from organised crime is developing and deepening."

Mafias In Britain

1 White "family" gangs: Drugs, protection racket, smuggling.

2 Turkish: Heroin, illegal immigration

3 West African: Fraud, drug trafficking, car theft, illegal immigration.

4 Hong Kong/China Triads: Illegal immigration, forgery, protection racketeering.

5= Colombian: Cocaine

5= Indian and Pakistan: Heroin, illegal immigration

7 Former Soviet Union: Money laundering, prostitution.

8 Irish criminal gangs: Heroin, robbery

9 Italian Mafia: Smuggling