Arifs (gang)

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Arif gang
Founded by Mehmet Arif and his brothers Dennis and Dogan
Founding location South London
Years active 1980s-present
Territory South London
Ethnicity British Turks (Turkish Cypriot)
Criminal activities Drug trafficking, armed robbery, Bribery, Arms trafficking, Assault, extortion, fraud, Skim, money laundering, murder, Attempted murder
Allies Clerkenwell crime syndicate, Turkish mafia
Rivals The Brindles

The Arifs are a South East London-based Turkish Cypriot criminal organization heavily involved in armed robbery, contract killing, drug trafficking and other racketeering-related activities within London's underworld since the late 1960s. Following the downfall of the Kray brothers, the Arifs were one of several criminal organizations who took control of the London underworld including the Clerkenwell crime syndicate and the Brindle family[1] with whom they were engaged in a highly publicized gangland war during the 1990s.

The Arifs themselves were considered the leading crime family in the London area throughout the late 1980s before the arrest and conviction of most of its leadership, including most of the Arif family members, for armed robbery and drug-related offences in early 1990s.[2] In 2004, the Irish Daily Mirror called the Arifs "Britain's No 1 crime family."[3] And also by some media outlets in 2016.[4][5][6]


They are Turkish-Cypriot in origin have been operating in South-East London since the 1960s. After the demise of the Kray brothers, several criminal enterprises attempted to move into the vacuum left behind. The Clerkenwell Crime Syndicate, the Brindle family and the Arifs all fancied a piece of the pie. In fact they fancied the whole pie eventually which, in the 1990s led to a violent gang war between the Arif’s and the Brindles. The Arifs are known to be, or to have been involved in racketeering, drug smuggling, armed robbery and murders. The gang is led by brothers Dennis, Mehmet and Dogan Arif but more brothers are involved in the various operations.[7]

As with many organised crime gangs, the nature of their operations means it’s often difficult to determine the extent of their current influence and activity. What we do know is that during the early 1990s and while they were waging a turf war with the Brindles, the police had mounted a huge operation against them leading to the conviction and imprisonment of most of the leadership, including various family members.[7]

In November 1990, Denis and Mehmet, wearing Ronald Reagan masks and wielding shotguns, were arrested in Woodhatch (Reigate, Surrey) as they attempted to rob a Securicor van. Mehmet Arif, who was driving a pick-up used in the robbery, was shot by police, but survived. His passenger, Kenneth Baker, was armed with a sawn-off shotgun, and was shot dead as he attempted to open fire on officers.[8]

Bekir Arif, 52, known as "The Duke", one of seven brothers in the family, was convicted of conspiracy to supply 100 kg of heroin worth £12.5 million in 1999 and given a 23-year term of imprisonment. Dogan Arif, also jailed for drug smuggling, is said to be controlling the family fortune from prison.[8] Their family is said to maintain ties with relations in Turkey who oversee shipments arriving in mainland Europe.

Despite this however, they still maintain a name as one of the most feared London families meaning that their acts of criminality have not decreased noticeably. Some sources believe that the organisation is run from prison, largely by Dogan Arif and they are known to maintain drug-related ties with Turkey.[7]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Murder of a good man; A drug gang had been cheated and someone had to pay. It cost an innocent victim his life. Daily Record. 03 Dec 2007
  • Drugs gang 'godfather' is facing 20 years' jail. Evening Standard. 04 Nov 2004
  • Jailed.. Pounds 1M-A-Week Heroin Mobster; Cafe Boss Is Crime Lord. The People. 31 Oct 2004
  • Busted; Exclusive Top Irish Drug Dealer Is Held In Eur2M Cocaine Raid. The Mirror. 07 Apr 2004
  • Special Report: Popeye's Escape Route; Fleeing Drug Boss Bought A Boat Days Before Mysterious Death. Sunday Mail. 29 Feb 2004
  • Gun Culture: Gun Gangs Of The Capital; Opinion. The Independent. 21 Sept 2003
  • Cyprus, the new Costa del Crime. Mail On Sunday. 04 Aug 2002
  • End Of A Long Line Of Criminals. The Scotsman. 3 May 2002
  • Britain's most treacherous man; He betrayed some of our most feared gangland godfathers and even dished the dirt on his own wife, brother and mistress. Here, in the week he was jailed, Britain's biggest supergrass and his wife tell their extraordinary story to a writer who became their close confidant. Daily Mail. 22 Dec 2001
  • Perry police quiz gangsters. Evening Standard. 30 Nov 2001
  • Bands of brothers; London's web of crime. Time Out. 28 Nov 2001
  • True Secrets Of Britain's Bloodiest Gangsters: The Arif Mob Strut Round Like Medieval Warlords ..And Fear Is Their Weapon; PART 2: Three-Page Special On Most Explosive Book Of The Year. The People. 14 Oct 2001
  • Gangster Filthy Rich List. News of the World. 17 Sept 2000
  • Gangster Who Ruled Parkhurst Prison Is Set To Walk Free. Sunday Express.
  • Heroin mastermind jailed. Western Morning News. 22 May 1999
  • Cypriot 'mafia' brother jailed for £12m drug plot. Evening Standard. 21 May 1999
  • Just when you thought london was a safer place. Evening Standard. 23 Sept 1998
  • Hitman Brought In To End Feud Jailed; 15-year minimum sentence imposed. Tangled London gangland war cost eight lives, Old Bailey told. The Guardian. 25 Mar 1997
  • Gangland hitman came from Dublin. The Independent. 22 Sept 1995
  • Caution: you are about to enter gangland Britain; British gangs are disorganised, crude and parochial. Triads, Yardies and Mafiosi are not. me They're here. And their methods are catching. The Independent. 21 Aug 1995
  • Men who run Crime UK. Sunday Times. 15 Jan 1995
  • All in the family: The British way of crime. The Observer. 11 July 1993
  • Murder in a tight little manor; Two men were shot to death in a south London pub last weekend, but witnesses are thin on the ground. Cal McCrystal unpicks the gangland ties that blind. The Independent. 11 Aug 1991
  • Death at the Bell. Sunday Times. 11 Aug 1991
  • Police step up fight to curb gangland killings. The Independent. 06 Aug 1991