When the Kray twins ruled the East End of London in the 1960s, organised crime was a man’s world where bosses controlled their illicit businesses through the threat of physical violence.
But times have changed. Proving that women are smashing the glass ceiling in the criminal world too, two female gang leaders have been linked to the control of a large portion of the drugs trade in northern England.
Shazia Din, 42, the matriarch of “Din OCG” — OCG stands for organised crime group — was jailed in July for 15 years after being caught operating a drugs network in Manchester. She used the Beauty Booth, a legitimate company supplying mascara, lipstick and body lotion via Amazon, as a front for her empire.
As the last of her gang was sentenced weeks ago, partly because of delays caused by Covid-19, Din’s significance, along with the head of a second crime family, Natalie Wrafter, based in Doncaster, is becoming apparent to police.
Police believe Din and Wrafter were responsible for a large proportion of the cocaine and heroin handled in Manchester and South Yorkshire in 2018 and 2019. Din had links with gangsters in Dubai controlling the UK’s drug supply. Dubai has no extradition treaty with the UK and detectives believe it is fast becoming the new “Costa del Crime”.
At one point, surveillance officers filmed Din and Wrafter in the car park of Doncaster prison exchanging thousands of pounds in cash as Din bounced a toddler in her arms. At one point the toddler ran off and Wrafter chased the child as Din tucked cash into the boot of her car.
Wrafter, 31, was promoted to lead the Doncaster gang after the arrest of her father, Peter, in 2019 for possession of a revolver and a kilogram of heroin. She was sentenced to 11 years in July at Manchester Crown Court.
Many of the women’s underlings were sentenced last month in courts in Manchester and Sheffield.
Police sources say Din, nicknamed the “Queen of Crime” in underworld circles, rose to the top of her family business after one brother was arrested and another went on the run in 2010.
Din’s gang supplied South Yorkshire with class-A drugs, using women as couriers in the knowledge they would be less likely to be searched by police. She made it a family affair, recruiting her son Hassan, 21, and her sister Abia, 45, as her “left-hand woman”.
Like any self-respecting crime boss, Din, who had a fondness for Mercedes cars and Rolex watches and lived in an upmarket street in Bury, Greater Manchester, was careful never to touch drugs, according to police. She communicated with gang members via encrypted EncroChat software.
Din would leave it to others to make trips across the Pennines to Doncaster, where she supplied Wrafter’s group with a steady stream of drugs.
“It’s not common to have two females at the very top of organisations like that, but we are now seeing females involved in organised crime groups,” said Detective Inspector Lee Griffin, of Greater Manchester police’s serious and organised crime group.
“They are often being used as couriers because they are less likely to be stopped. It can also be common for families to involve females in the family business. Sometimes there will be a male involved in organised crime and the women will try to take the blame for him.”
By David Collins, January 10, 2021, published on , The Times,