Empire of Crime

This is the first book to reveal the full extent and variety of organised crime within the British Empire in the 20th century and how gangsters exploited its global trade routes to establish a new age of criminal networks that spanned the world.

They even took the liberty of using the very weapons of imperial power—Her Majesty’s Royal Navy—to smuggle drugs from continent to continent. HMS Belfast, now a major tourist site in the River Thames in the heart of London, was once packed with Triad narcotics from Hong Kong intended for distribution in America.

Digging deep into British colonial archives, Newark has discovered startling truths about organised crime inside the British Empire.

When Great Britain took the moral high ground and banned its lucrative export of opium from Imperial India to China, it unleashed a century of criminality. Just as America's misguided Prohibition of alcohol made illicit fortunes for the Mafia, so organised criminals within the British Empire grew rich on their trade in illegal narcotics in the 20th century.

Tim Newark visits police headquarters in Singapore.