Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

When the Krays Came Up North; HOW GANG TRIED TO MUSCLE IN ON CASINOS

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

When the Krays Came Up North; HOW GANG TRIED TO MUSCLE IN ON CASINOS

Article excerpt

Byline: RAY MARSHALL

CASINO Gambling today is very respectable and the big casinos on Tyneside seem to be well-run, well attended.

In fact, when talking about Tyneside's gaming gangland it sounds more like a joke than reality but, back in those days, no one was laughing.

It was a time when Tyneside came within a whisker of falling into the hands of a nationally-organised crime syndicate.

Senior policemen were talking with deadly seriousness of protection rackets, gang murders, violence and bombings, of nationwide crime syndicates and front organisations.

And some of it actually happened in the North East - but it was only years after the event, when the likes of the Kray twins were incarcerated and the rest of the underworld bit players were left without the heroes, that the police were able to relax a bit more.

One former senior CID man said in the 1970s: "The London criminals realised that there was big money to be made in the province. The lines of communication were being set up and trustworthy contacts were being made in the North East."

It was a simple time-and-again used formula.

Gangsters would get in on the back of a protection racket, based on violence, until the casino owner owed so much money he simply hands over his business, lock, stock and barrel.

Overnight it became a centre for illegal gambling, as well as a clearing house for stolen money and goods, and also a nerve-centre for dozens of minor criminals.

The ex-CID man told the Evening Chronicle, in the early 1970s: "There were certain violent incidents which we were able to attribute directly to organised gangs whose main interest was gaming."

Just how rich the pickings were, no one knows. Casino profits were, and are, jealously guarded. But bingo, a useful sideline, turned over around pounds 150m a year in Britain in the early 1970s. …

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