The Kray Twins Reggie and Ronnie Kray. East End Gangsters And The Modern Casuals.
The Legacy They Left and The Inspiration For Modern Firms in 2020.....
For many years British Gangsters have been idolised for their charisma, charm and bad boy image. The hallowing and spine cringing historic tales that scared and devastated British towns and communities with fear for decades. The extreme violence and horrific executions carried out as a sign of a consequence or a display of a physical warning to others. The fierce, terrifying code of conduct they live by with no exceptions. The speculation and secretive world they reside and hustle from that only comes to light via tabloid headlines and media coverage in extreme circumstances.
The notoriety and legacies faces as they are known, leave behind. The fame, fortunes and glamour. The tailored suits, the collection of nice cars and a beautiful women on each arm. The law of respect and loyalty bound from the heart of brotherhood, family, attachment and belonging. From the Kray Twins to the criminal mastermind who planned the Great Train Robbery with military precision. No other than the one and only Bruce Reynolds. Both like many of Britain’s infamous gangsters they grew up and crafted their trade in the post war years of British poverty. The foundations they established and their legacies lived on through the eyes of the faces into the eighties, nineties and long into the modern day. As the Krays Firm and those involved with the Great Train Robbery disbanded many of their members joined other firms. For example, Bernard O’Mahoney who joined Pat Tate, Tony Tucker and the infamous Essex Boys Firm. Another member of the Great Train robbery Charlie Wilson who was shot dead at his home in Marbella after his involvement with the proceeds from the Brink’s-Mat robbery in the eighties. Where a staggering 26 million pounds worth of gold was taken and a lot still unaccounted for to this day. Charlie lost 3 million pounds of Brink’s-Mat money on a drug shipment and was one of many to be murdered. These great tails lead us to the modern world and to where we are with today’s firms. Crime doesn’t just fade away it evolves. Proceeds are invested and profits are used to source new and lucrative lines of income. The nineties saw the Rave seen spread across the United Kingdom and large profits were made from Ecstasy and Heroin. This created new and exciting roles within the murky world. The Tax Man was originally coming to light in the eighties but many more jumped on the band wagon in the nineties. Who was a drug dealer going to report you to if they had been robbed? Robbing drug dealers was the perfect crime. New ideas, strategies and concepts are tailored to suit the current climate and youth culture. West Ham’s infamous football hooligans known as the ICF (Inter City Firm). Began exchanging the terraces of their beloved Boleyn Ground for the doors where brute force and big money could be earned. A professional game of cat and mouse with rich rewards and a reputation of being top dog were up for grabs. The dream of the Costa Del Sol was alive once more. The build up, planning and adrenaline to any job is the addiction for any criminal and the sense of euphoria at what is known as the slaughter. This is where the haul is counted and divided up amongst the members involved and each receiving their cut.
Villains learn from others mistakes and failings. There’s no qualifications or training, you just learn from experience that is adapted by time. From the Millenium Heist in 2000 to the Hatton Garden Heist in 2015. Old school style planning with a modern edge trying to defeat and out wit a cyber and forensic era. From the new generation. Modern crime now involves delegation, strategies and tactics, terrorism and cultural divide. A new wave of structure has formed amongst the ranks insuring people’s mouths are kept shut and to secure ones future. A world now exists where Firms boundaries are divided by Boroughs and the frontlines of territory are determined by postcodes. The internal network of county lines and continental links of global distribution, supply and supported services now exists. Resulting in larger profits and success. The advances in technology and communication devices that are supporting the thriving industry of organised crime in the modern world is growing by the day. From code scrambling mobile phones to the Dark Web. Drugs, Guns and even people can be purchased and sold behind closed doors and out of sight. But power, adrenaline and the feeling of dominance whilst inflicting fear remains at the core even to this day.
The Kray twins grew up in London’s East End. In truth they loved a good row. Either with each other or against rivals. The brothers were born to fight and they loved violence. Both men loved their boxing but enjoyed grafting more. Power, respect and reputation were their driving forces with the intention of leaving a legacy.
The Krays key to success....
Respect: Have morals and respect civilians, Look after your own and only go after your own kind. Remember to look after your people and your people will look after you.
Trust no one: The Krays had each other’s backs and only trusted one another. They even showed a no fear attitude with leadership that was not to be crossed amongst their own firm.
Like ability: To be successful you need to be likeable. People have to want to look up to you. You have to make them feel like they belong and they need to believe in you.
Fear and Reputation: If people fear you they won’t cross you. Making a name for yourself increases your chances of rising to the top with maximum profit and success.
Gentlemanly: Even though the Krays were villains they had manners, showed respect and adored their mother.
Networking: Keeping your circle of trust small but knowing the right people is key. You will always need supply, be able to clean money, and get rid of any evidence swiftly without causing a stir.
These key factors remain key to any veteran organisation today. We now live in a disposable society. Nothing matters and everything is wanted yesterday. In the past players had time and fully understood the importance of appreciation, planning and a disciplined execution. Something the youngers of today are still learning and the veterans are teaching.
Faces don’t always get chance to stick to the plan things can go wrong. An example of this is The Hatton Garden Heist. Where unforeseen circumstances arise and greed over takes discipline meaning you get sloppy and make mistakes. Similar to the Krays in the end, they just got carried away. They believed they were invincible because the rise had gone to their head. But maybe the legacy is about the planning and getting caught means you could believe you were free? If The Train Robbers wernt caught would we of known about Bruce Reynolds. Would Ronnie Biggs be a household name?
The Krays made money from their stories from behind the bars. Numerous films, books and memorabilia fuelled the legacy to live on. Two twins from East London that new how to box clever and make even Scousers believe they had family ties to them.
If you had possession of some seriously valuable goods or money and you had to serve ten to fifteen years with three meals a day, A colour tv and hot water. Then after that period you are a free man to enjoy your fortunes? Is that not tempting?
In years gone by Firms were made of groups who affiliated with one group. There was a rank structure, looking your best in smart suits and highly polished shoes was the image. That has now been replaced by trainers, hoodies and brand names. The Casual era is here and the rank structure has changed. These days everybody is out for themselves. Trust amongst the average foot soldier is gone. It’s more of a mercenary state of affairs and actions are carried out by those who are unable to afford a fix or who owe a debt they haven’t paid.
After many weeks of negotiation a modern day Fixer is willing to talk to me. Known only as Frank and wishing to remain anonymous he’s willing to tell his personal story and the modern scene he is wrapped up in.
Two chairs facing each other in a large hall. Spacious and open, feeling anxious and nervous as I await his presence. Through a single door a tall, bald figure appears with a deep voice. We shake hands prior to sitting. Both unsure of each other’s presence he questions my motives. Am I a copper or from a rival crew? Quickly I have to establish a professional relationship and earn this guys trust prior to questioning him. A greeting conversation I hadn’t planned for and left me thinking on my feet before the whole interview is blown. Things quickly simmer and Frank is reassured. This shadow of a man with a history of violence is clenching his huge fists and starring directly at me. I begin by asking him to tell me about his childhood. A man that’s nearly fifty and more scars than than teeth begins to talk about how he grew up in care. Passed from one foster home to another and often left to fend for himself. Looking at Frank he was well dressed but it was clear he had lead a hard life. Frank tells me how he got out of various homes by intimidating other kids in the household. Frank spent years being bullied because he was a product of the British Care system. Bullied because of the way he looked. Dressed in second hand, hand me down clothes. Clothes were either to tight or too big. Attending a new school every six months and never fitting in. Sat in lessons with kids telling him their going to fight him at lunch. From the age of eight Franks perception was why wait and would hit them there and then with some kind of instrument. Education was never a love of Franks so he truented and found himself surrounded by people who understood him and who he felt safe with. Frank spent his time with older lads who came from the same failed system but who had found an escape. By the age of fourteen Frank had tried almost every drug and was hooked on Amphetamine and Heroin. By the age of fifteen Frank was addicted to injecting himself to forget and escape life. From the beginning drugs were a social thing and were the norm amongst his group of friends. A gathering of like minded individuals who enjoyed experimenting and the euphoria drugs allowed. Frank craved more and more and would often enter crack houses to buy a fix. Upon entry often or not Frank was met with a proposal. This is where his childhood skill of learning to fight meant he could feed his addiction for a discounted price. The problem being the more Frank had the more he wanted. Frank started out by disposing of bodies from drug dens and crack houses. Abandoning them in alleyways and in rivers. Frank was for the first time in his life feeling respected. For the exchange of drugs Franks variety of services began to expand. Now Frank was becoming a go to man known as a Fixer. Dealers only deal to those who they know. A kind of security blanket. One to ensure they are not going to get robbed or second caught up in an undercover sting operation by the police. Individuals began coming to Frank. He would pick up for them meaning the dealer made more customers and Frank received a cheaper rate on his drugs for personal use. Frank was a rising star and rapidly became a face. Into Franks early twenties and his reputation of no nonsence violence with extreme measures meant dealers had a profitable hold over him. Frank was now collecting unpaid debts and was a guaranteed, reliable asset. Whether it was five pound outstanding or a couple of grand in Franks eyes a debt was a debt and it needed paying. Franks approach was to remove someone’s comfort, make them experience fear and take control of the one place they could feel safe. Frank would break into their homes at two, three in the morning when he new the victim was fast asleep in bed. Frank would rudely wake them up by shoving the barrel of a loaded gun against their cheek. Wearing a balaclava, dressed in black and speaking in a fast loud tone. This created a confused state and installed fear meaning Frank then controlled the situation. Frank stated he thrived on seeing grown men wee themselves in panic as it meant he achieved his aims. Frank went on to greater crimes such a kidnapping, selling Firearms and Armed Robbery. Frank served time in prison and admits the system did nothing for him. Except build his reputation further. Drugs on the inside have a higher value. Swilling someone with a cocktail of boiled kettle water and sugar was easy work. Frank has stated his life choices reflects the friendship groups he knocked about with. “If someone was offering money or drugs in return for a few hours graft then so be it.” “I’d do it.” Frank left the life of violence a few years back and now concentrated his efforts else where. The changing point was when he became in debt himself. The problem was Crack Cocaine. The more you have the more you want. Unlike weed the Crack is moorish and the buzz only lasts for twenty minutes. As soon as you have burnt your rock you want another one. Frank feared for his life knowing he could of been on the receiving end of what he had once done to others. “In this game as soon as you lose your bottle it’s time to rethink whilst you still have a pulse.”
I’ve learnt, heard, met and listened to some amazing people whilst putting this together. Ive learnt that drugs are a currency and a commodity for organised crime. A way of moving money, cleaning it and staying one step ahead. All in aid of keeping that Costa Del Sol dream alive.