Clerkenwell crime syndicate

Clerkenwell crime syndicate
In Islington, London
Founded by Terry Adams and his brothers Tommy and Patrick
Years active 1980s-present
Territory Islington, London
Ethnicity Irish
Criminal activities Drug trafficking, armed robbery, Bribery, Arms trafficking, Assault, extortion, fraud, Skim, money laundering, murder, Attempted murder
Allies Yardie gangs hired out as muscle, Colombian drug cartels
Rivals Cranham crime syndicate, The Reillys

The Clerkenwell crime syndicate, most often known as the Adams Family or the A-team[1][2] by the British press, is alleged to be one of the most powerful criminal organisations in the United Kingdom if not in fact the strongest.[3] By the nature of their position reliable information about them that has not been distorted or exaggerated is hard to come by. But media reports have repeatedly linked them to around 25 murders[4] and credited them with wealth of up to £200 million.[5] Before two of the brothers were convicted in 1998 and 2007 respectively the failure of the police to secure convictions against them had led to a belief, amongst some, that they had utterly undermined the justice system so as to become untouchables. Police, Crown Prosecution Service staff and jurors were said to have been bribed and intimidated leading to not-guilty verdicts against members of the gang that were said to be wrong.

Their position is now under threat: the gang's apparent leader, Terry Adams, has been serving a prison sentence since February 2007, and two of his brothers are under surveillance by the Serious Organised Crime Agency and police in Spain, making other criminals reluctant to do business with them.[6] It has been said that Terry Adams faces severe financial difficulties having been ordered, in May 2007, to repay £4.7 million in legal aid[7] and pay £800,000 of prosecution costs. Further difficulties arose in February 2010 when a man claiming to be Terry Adams' nephew was convicted in a case known as the jigsaw murder: it was claimed during the trial that he had disposed of four bodies for the Adamses. As he is 38 years old and has been sentenced to at least 36 years in prison it may be that there is little reason for him not to co-operate with the police in any further enquiries that they wish to make about the family.[8]

The syndicate was formed in the 1980s by Terry Adams, with his brothers Tommy and Patrick Adams acting as financier and enforcer respectively. They come from a large Irish Catholic family. It expanded to include other members of the extended Adams clan and their close childhood friends. The gang's power base is the Clerkenwell neighbourhood in Islington. Terry Adams, until his admission of money laundering in February 2007, lived in the Barnsbury area of Islington.

The gang is said to be heavily involved in drug trafficking and extortion as well as the hijacking of gold bullion shipments and security fraud. They have been linked to 25 gangland murders, using Afro-Caribbean muscle as additional manpower to murder informants and rival criminals (as would Sicilian mafiosi hired out by Charles Sabini and the Messina Brothers only decades before). As well as developing alleged connections to Metropolitan Police officials, they were also stated to have had a British Conservative MP in their pocket at one point.[9]

The shooting of the then 68 year old "Mad" Frankie Fraser, a former enforcer for The Richardson Gang, in July 1991 was said to have been ordered by the Adams family — though Fraser said he had been targeted by rogue police. The family is believed to have connections with various criminal organisations, specifically with South American drug cartels. Before the conviction of Terry Adams in 2007 the British media referred to the gang sparingly, considering their alleged influence, and normally described them as the A-team or the notorious Adams family from Islington.

Sean "Tommy" Adams gained high profile public attention again during a trial in 2004, when he was described as having attended a meeting in 2002 at the request of the former football international Kenny Dalglish.[10] Dalglish was a major shareholder in Wilmslow based sports agency Pro Active, a leading sports management firm headed up by local Wilmslow businessman Paul Stretford. Dalglish was reported[10] to have hired Adams during a protracted deal to secure Pro Active's exclusive management rights to Manchester United and England football striker Wayne Rooney in circumstances where another company claimed to represent Rooney.

The nature of the criminal world means that it is sometimes difficult to assess the Adams' true strength. The BBC[11] has asserted that their influence decreased from 2000. Police officers speaking off the record to British newspapers have said that the family has been credited with acts that they simply did not carry out and judging by the number of alleged key gang members killed or imprisoned below this might well be true, however the Metropolitan Police took the Adams crimes so seriously they considered the need to involve not only a hand-picked CPS lead team of detectives but the country's highest level security service, MI5, in order to crack the Adams mafia-like organised crime cartel.

The degree to which the gang now operates as one is also unclear. Tommy Adams was imprisoned for his involvement in money laundering[1] and a drugs plot that was described as not having been sanctioned by his brothers. During an 18-month bugging operation by MI5,[1] Terry Adams was recorded speaking about his brother in very strident terms and suggesting that, in 1998 at least, relations between them were kept to a minimum. It has been stated that they have a criminal fortune of up to £200 million.[12]


Personnel and members

T. G. Adams

Terence George Adams (born 18 October 1954) admitted a single specimen money laundering offence on 7 February 2007 and was jailed for seven years; he was released on 24 June 2010.[13] On 9 March at a hearing at the Old Bailey, Andrew Mitchell QC summed up the prosecution's case in saying, "It is suggested that Terry Adams was one of the country’s most feared and revered organized criminals. He comes with a pedigree, as one of a family whose name had a currency all of its own in the underworld. A hallmark of his career was the ability to keep his evidential distance from any of the violence and other crime from which he undoubtedly profited."[14]

The former Scottish gangster Paul Ferris asserts that none of the brothers is primus inter pares (first among equals or in sole charge). Terry has been described as having a refined and cultured manner and as a collector of antiques, wine, and cars (including custom-built Cadillacs and Bentleys). The Evening Standard reported in 2000 that he lived in a “Finchley mansion”.

Terry Adams's downfall came with the assistance of MI5 and the Inland Revenue. MI5, in a unique inter-departmental collaboration the first of its kind after the Cold War ended, played a leading part in the electronic war against organised crime—and turned its sights on Adams's international criminal cartel. Police and MI5 set up a secret squad to dismantle the Adams organisation, directed from an anonymous Hertfordshire address inside a secret bunker sitting somewhere on the busy Hoddesdon commuter belt into London. An organized crime investigation which like that of New York mafia Don John Gotti in the 1980s had taken exactly seven years was finally amalgamated under the codename Operation Trinity by Tony Blair's New Labour Government when electronic bugs were secretly hidden in the lounge, bedroom and loft of Adams’ Finchley mansion house. Terry Adams was heard making what later became chilling and violent testimony against certain individuals. Some of the recordings however made over a period of 18 months suggested that Adams had retired from front line involvement in crime in 1990. Police sources believed Adams knew he was being monitored and had "stage managed" many conversation for the benefit of his defense. For example he was caught on tape, in 1998, telling his adviser Solly Nahome that he did not want to be involved with a particular deal as it was illegal and he was now legitimate.

The Inland Revenue had their own suspicions and began asking Adams to explain how he had amassed his personal fortune and got his £2 million house and the valuable antiques he collected. Adams invented a range of unlikely occupations, including jeweller and public relations executive. Transcripts of the surveillance and investigations into several front companies Adams set up proved he was lying.

When he was arrested in April 2003 detectives found art and antiques valued at £500,000, £59,000 in cash and jewellery worth more than £40,000 in his home. On May 18, 2007 he was ordered to pay £4.8 million in legal fees to three law firms who had initially represented him under the UK's free legal aid scheme. He was also required to pay £800,000 in prosecution costs. A few days later on May 21, 2007 he was ordered to file reports setting out his income for the next ten years. Open case files remain untried on Operation Trinity records and rumour still exists that several further prosecution may eventually come to trial. In May, 2009 media reports suggested that his £1.6 million house was for sale as a result of the fees and costs arising from his 2007 conviction [1]. He was released from prison on June, 24 2010. In August 2011 he appeared before City of London Magistrates court charged with 8 breaches of his Financial Reporting Order imposed upon him in 2007 . It is believed he has been recalled to Prison on breach of parole [2] .

Sean Adams

Sean "Tommy" Adams, born in 1958, is allegedly financier for his brothers Terry and Patrick. A married father of four, he still has a home near the family's traditional Islington base, but is now living in Spain.

Tommy Adams was charged with involvement in the handling of Brink's-MAT gold bullion but in 1985 was cleared of involvement in the laundering of the proceeds during a high profile Old Bailey trial with co defendant Kenneth Noye.[15]

Tommy Adams is suspected of establishing connections to other international criminal organisations including numerous Yardie gangs as well as gaining an $80 million credit line from Colombian drug cartels. In 1998, Adams was convicted of masterminding a £8 million hashish smuggling operation into Britain for which he was jailed for seven years. At trial he was also ordered to pay an unprecedented £6 million criminal assets embargo, or face an additional five years' imprisonment on top of his seven year term. On appeal the criminal assets embargo was later reduced by appeal judges to £1M largely due to the CPS not having sufficient material evidence, bank accounts or traceable assets to locate and verify Adams' criminal wealth. Tommy Adams' wife, Androulla, paid his £1M criminal assets embargo in cash just two days before the CPS deadline.

Patsy Adams

Patrick Adams, born in 1955, is regarded as one of the most violent organised crime figures in Great Britain [3]. He gained an early reputation in London's underworld by using high-speed motorcycles in gangland murders and was a suspect in at least 25 organised crime related deaths over a three-year period. He was sentenced to seven years in prison in the 1970s for an armed robbery.

Although subordinate to Terry Adams, Patrick — sometimes known as Patsy — has participated in individual criminal activities. Most notably he is suspected of the 1991 murder attempt on Frankie Fraser; also, according to one account, he assaulted Fraser's son David Fraser with a knife, cutting off part of his ear during a drug deal. During the late 1990s, he was reported to spend much of his time in Spain. The Independent stated in 2001 that he was “living in exile in Spain in a walled villa bristling with security cameras a few miles south of Torremolinos”.

Other family members and associates

Not all members of the family are criminals; some, including the Adams' parents and several of their eight other siblings, are law-abiding.

  • Gilbert Wynter, a feared enforcer for the family, disappeared in 1998. Four years before, he was cleared of killing the former British high-jump champion Claude Moseley after a key prosecution witness refused to give evidence at the Old Bailey. Moseley worked as a drug dealer for the gang and was suspected of skimming money from his sales. Wynter disappeared in March 1998 and underworld sources say he was killed after double-crossing the family. Gang lore says his body was buried in concrete and is propping up the Millennium Dome. Another account of his suspected death asserts that he was killed on the orders of noted London gangster Mickey Green.
  • Saul “Solly” Nahome, shot dead outside his £300,000 home in Finchley, north London, in 1998 by an assassin who escaped on a motorcycle, was suspected of acting as a financial adviser to the family. Nahome, a diamond merchant in Hatton Garden, Clerkenwell, was recruited by the syndicate and is thought by police to have laundered the money through the jewellery business, a restaurant in Smithfield and a West End nightclub. He is said to have secreted at least £25 million in offshore accounts. The secrets of the money's whereabouts may have died with him. He either died at the hands of the Adams' when they found out he had stolen money from them, or on the orders of Mickey Green according to gangland accounts. Nahome was known to police as complicit with the laundering of the proceeds of Brink's-MAT gold bullion theft.
  • Robert Adams, (deceased) a relative of the family was imprisoned for his part in a huge attempted robbery at the Millennium Dome, London.

Connections to other gangsters

The Adams family have long been connected to the Brink's-MAT robbery and other individuals who helped sell the stolen gold, including Kenneth Noye. Hatton Garden diamond merchant Solly Nahome was also linked with the Adams Family and his disappearance was said to have angered Patrick Adams. Nahome was shot dead outside his £300,000 Finchley home in 1998.

The three convicted murderers of Ben Kinsella were also allegedly threatened by the Adams family.[16]


  1. ^ a b c Johnston, Philip (10 March 2007). "Daily Telegraph, 10 March 2007, retrieved 5 September 2008". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  3. ^ Devito, Carlo. Encyclopedia of International Organized Crime. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2005. ISBN 0-8160-4848-7
  4. ^ "Daily Mail, 8 June 2007, retrieved 5 September 2008". London. 8 June 2007. 
  5. ^ Craig, Olga (11 February 2007). "Daily Telegraph, 11 March 2007, retrieved 5 September 2008". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  6. ^ Steele, John (2007-07-02). "Gang boss trapped by MI5 'bugging'". London: The Daily Telegraph. 
  7. ^ Laville, Sandra (2007-05-19). "Crime boss Adams faces ruin after trial". London: The Guardian.,,2083275,00.html. 
  8. ^ Telegraph
  9. ^ Lashmar, Paul (1998-09-18). "Adams family values". The Independent. 
  10. ^ a b Guardian
  11. ^ "Who might be targeted ?". BBC News. 2003-02-24. 
  12. ^ Telegraph
  13. ^ Laville, Sandra (2007-02-07). "Gang boss faces long jail term after admitting cash conspiracy". London: The Guardian. 
  14. ^ BBC
  15. ^ "Crime Case Closed: Brinks Mat". BBC News. April 2003. Archived from the original on 2007-03-06. 
  16. ^ Marked men: Notorious criminal family 'has put a price on the heads of Ben Kinsella's murderers', Tom Kelly, Daily Mail, June 11, 2009.

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