IT has been branded the most violent British drama ever – but Gangs Of London offers only a glimpse of the real-life wars fought by criminals on the capital’s streets.
Viewers were left reeling from the opening scene, in which gangster Sean Wallace, played by Peaky Blinders star Joe Cole, dangles a man from a skyscraper before burning him alive.
As the crime overlord sets out to avenge the killing of his father Finn, the Sky Atlantic series racks up a tally of 113 deaths. Yet experts reckon the TV show is a pale version of the real thing.
Britain’s drugs trade is worth £11billion and the National Crime Agency estimates 4,600 ruthless gangs operate across the country.
Ex-undercover cop Neil Woods, who spent 14 years infiltrating drugs gangs, says: “The most successful gangster is the one who can intimidate an entire community.”
Sophie Jane Evans and Grant Rollings reveal the real-life London gangs reflected in the telly hit.
- Gangs Of London is on Sky On Demand
THE first suspects for Finn’s murder in the gritty TV drama are Albanian gangs. In real life they have pulled off a near-total takeover of Britain’s £5billion cocaine industry.
Albanian gangsters are governed by the deadly “kanun” code — the right to take revenge.
Using London as their hub, they carry out contract killings, torture underworld enemies and beat sex-trafficked women.
One in ten foreign prisoners in UK jails is Albanian. The National Criminal Agency says gangs from the western Balkan state have a “high-profile influence” over organised crime in the UK.
One of the most notorious outfits are the Hellbanianz, who share selfies with flashy cars, handguns and wads of cash on social media to recruit new foot soldiers from all over the UK.
Professor Simon Harding, director of the National Centre for Gang Research at the University of West London, says: “Gangs now have a digital footprint as well as a territory or postcode footprint.
“What that means is you can live in Norfolk and join a London gang. It’s worrying.”
KNOWN as the Clerkenwell crime syndicate after the area of the capital where they are based, the Irish Adams family is one of the UK’s most feared gangs.
In the TV show, London gangster Sean and his dad Finn are also Irish.
Tommy Adams — one of three brothers who formed the real-life crime clan in the Eighties — was ordered by a court in February to repay £1.2million from a cash laundering network.
His gang is known for torturing enemies until their limbs are amputated, extorting businesses for thousands of pounds and shooting rivals from motorbikes.
The group allegedly even had someone buried in the concrete under London’s Millennium Dome.
One insider claims: “If you were doing a job and you had the Adams family behind you it meant no one was going to f**k about with you.”
- JOE Cole, left, plays gangster Sean Wallace. The 31-year-old Londoner starred in Peaky Blinders and has become known for his hardman roles.
- Colm Meaney, 66, plays Sean’s dad FInn. The Irishman’s varied roles include parts in Star Trek on TV as well as movies Con Air and Layer Cake.
A REIGN of terror by a Somalian street mob has left residents frightened to leave their homes at night in North East London.
Described as the “most business-driven, violent and ruthless” type of gang, The Mali Boys shun social media and use old-fashioned Nokia phones to make their movements, identities and communications difficult to track.
Their bosses originally came to Britain as children from the war-torn African nation.
A rival gangster said: “Some are ex-soldiers who have seen people’s heads blown off, so they feel they can come and do it here.”
IN Gangs Of London’s second episode, a Pakistani mobster tries to smuggle heroin inside the stomachs of cows which are being transported by truck.
Show director Corin Hardy claims the writers based the sequence on a true story.
Real gangs have been caught smuggling millions of pounds worth of heroin into the UK from Pakistan, hidden in gloves, machinery and even pen lids.
Some British dealers have moved to the Asian country, knowing they can make a killing from drug trafficking by exploiting the high number of legitimate packages sent overseas.
British Pakistani Muhammad Asif Hafeez is currently fighting extradition to the US on drugs trafficking charges.
When he was arrested in London in 2017 it was claimed he was behind a global narcotics operation that included heroin, crystal meth and ephedrine.
Nicknamed The Sultan, multi-millionaire polo enthusiast Hafeez is so well connected he has even met Princes William and Harry.
A WAR which raged between Turkish mafia clans the Hackney Bombers and the Kurdish Tottenham Boys claimed ten lives and led to more than 30 violent incidents between 2009 and 2016.
The rival North London gangs are still fighting over the capital’s lucrative heroin trade, once thought to be controlled by 63-year-old wheelchair-bound Abdullah Baybasin — dubbed the Godfather of Green Lanes.
Police investigating the Green Lanes area in 2003 discovered a torture chamber inside a terraced home with equipment to hang victims by hooks and more to give them electric shocks.
Baybasin was acquitted of drugs charges at a London court in 2010 after serving four years of a 22-year jail sentence.
He was later caged for 40 years in Turkey for cocaine smuggling — but the decision was overturned by the country’s supreme court.
In 2017 Baybasin was released from prison, subject to judicial control and a ban on travelling abroad.
- GANGSTER Ed Dumani is played by Lucian Msamati, 44, left, who previously starred in the TV adaptation of His Dark Materials.
- Game Of Thrones actress Michelle Fairley, 54, centre, plays Finn’s widow. She is helping her family’s wine firm in Ireland during lockdown.
- Undercover cop Elliot Finch lives a dangerous life. He is played by Sope Dirisu, 29, who was in The Huntsman: Winter’s War.
The Greek Cypriots
WHEN the Kray twins were finally jailed, a Turkish-Cypriot crime mob took over their domain.
With London’s infamous brothers out of the way, the Arif family moved into South London.
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They have carried out a reign of terror since the late 1960s, involving armed robbery, contract killing and drug trafficking.
Bekir Arif, nicknamed The Duke, was sentenced to 11 and a half years in jail in 2016 for his role in a £1.5million drugs ring.
His associates are thought to have maintained ties with Turkey, with accomplices allegedly overseeing drugs shipments to mainland Europe.
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