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In 2004, the murder of a middle-aged couple in their village bungalow lifted the lid on the great untold story of British organised crime. The slaughter of Joan and John Stirland revealed an evil empire of powerful ganglords, contract killings and police corruption. At its dark heart was the East Midlands city of Nottingham. A prosperous centre of business, education and leisure, Nottingham had fallen under the shadow of vicious gangsters. Eventually its police were investigating so many murders that their boss had to appeal to other forces for help. HOODS traces the roots of the gangs, revealing how economic dislocation and the clash of cultures between working-class white residents and black immigrants created an alienated underclass. In the 1990s, a more malignant breed of organised criminal emerged as crime families involved in armed robbery, protection rackets and extortion sought to control the recreational drugs trade, forging links across Europe to import wholesale quantities of cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines. By 2002, shootings were running at one a week. HOODS also uncovers how outlaw Yardies pioneered the sale of crack cocaine and imported the ruthless violence of the Jamaican ghettos; how young black gangs from the so-called NG Triangle clashed in a series of turf wars; how the shadowy Dawes Cartel built a lucrative international drugs empire; and how the Bestwood Cartel and its terrifying leader, Colin Gunn, corrupted police officers and left dead and maimed in its wake. As local police struggled to cope with the mayhem, MI5 and the National Crime Squad launched a massive undercover investigation into the untouchables. It led ultimately to the dismantling of some of the UKs most powerful crime networks. HOODS is a stark account of what happens when the rule of the gun supplants the rule of law and fear stalks the streets.

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