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International drug gangs exploiting the UK are 'bigger than McDonald's'

NewsInternational drug gangs exploiting the UK are 'bigger than McDonald's'

Global organised crime groups operating in Britain are so profitable they are “bigger than McDonald’s”, according to a leading UK criminologist. Professor John Coxhead, a policing specialist at University of East London, says international criminal businesses are generating “eye-watering” sums of money by buying and selling drugs and firearms around the world.

This comes in the wake of the conviction of Thomas Cashman, 34, for the fatal shooting of Olivia Pratt-Korbel, 9, in August 2022.

Cashman was pursuing rival gangster Joseph Nee, 36, when the hit went wrong and he killed Olivia and shot her Mum Cheryl Korbel.

Professor Coxhead, a two-time winner of the Queen’s Award for Innovation in Police Learning, said that Olivia’s murder was a “symptom” of an international drug ecosystem where giant underground businesses make “absolutely astonishing” amounts of money – “more money than some European countries’ GDPs”.

He told Express.co.uk that much of domestic UK gang crime can be traced up to what he calls “organised crime businesses” that are “orchestrating” the illegal drugs and firearms industries in the UK.

The professor said that to prevent the horrific violence that killed Olivia, governments around the world need to work together to “cut the head off the chicken” of organised crime businesses.

He explained that in areas of the UK “young people have grown up with no positive role models… so people have grown up or lived on streets where there’s been no strong community safety agenda”.

Professor Coxhead said: “And actually the dominant power has been crime groups which have gotten more powerful. That’s on a local level.

“Stepping back the local is orchestrated by the global. We’ve got to be far more proactive and aggressive in hunting down organised crime business infrastructures.”

He warned: “This is literally an undeclared war.

“Some of the organised crime businesses… the ones we know about, they are making more money than some European country GDPs.

“It’s absolutely astonishing the amount of money that they’re making. These are literally drugs franchises. This is bigger than McDonald’s.”

According to the Millennium Project, transnational organised crime pulls in more than “$4.7 trillion per year”, however due to the underground nature of the trade, the think tank estimates the true figure may be closer to “$10 trillion”.

The World Bank’s figures show that the GDP of France was in 2021 almost $3 trillion.

Without “cutting off the oxygen” at the top of these illegal businesses, domestic gang crime will not be contained, he argued.

He said: “Reactive policing is not enough to keep a lid on these organised crime businesses. When people talk about the notion of trying to ‘keep a lid on in it’, that’s not a plan is it really.

“I don’t know why we’re not being more assertive in declaring this as a major threat to us all.”

“We need to cut off the oxygen. So organised crime businesses are exploiting local resources and assets at a local level, in local communities, and we need to cut off the oxygen so that their business model can’t work.”

Professor Coxhead maintained that global organisations, leaders and governments must work harder to curb the profitability of the international drugs trade or more innocent children like Olivia will fall victim.

He said: “Within the international infrastructure, culturally, why are we allowing this to happen?

“We need international financial agreements. We need to fight the war using the banking system to freeze dirty money.

“We’ve got to stop trying to do this reactive problem solving… we’ve got to get upstream. We’ve got to try and get to the solution that removes the viability of the crime business model.”

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