Sydney’s Top Crime Figures
Sydney’s underworld is surprisingly diverse, with gang members and mobsters coming from every background. From the Russian Mafia in Sydney to executives at big-time banks involved in money laundering, here are some of the most infamous Australian crime bosses:
Fred “Paddles” Anderson
If there’s one boss to rule them all, it’s Fred “Paddles” Anderson. He’s known as the true Australian godfather – his influence reached all corners of Australia, from Queensland to Victoria and beyond.
Karl Bonnette shares: "Fred was the man; he was the smartest of all of them. You could go and get advice off him about anything. He had connections everywhere: judges, politicians. He was accepted in a lot of different circles and he had a bit of class. Fred could pick up the phone and get anything done like that [clicks his fingers].”
After being acquitted from a murder charge in 1940, Anderson moved to Sydney and established his rep as a standover man. He would threaten to attack illegal establishments, such as casinos and brothels, unless they paid him a hefty wad of cash. He’d also provide these establishments with protection from other violent gangs. Of course, the establishment owners couldn’t report Anderson to the police, as it would put their illegal business in jeopardy.
Lennie McPherson went from a boy sentenced to juvy to one of Australia’s most notorious career criminals in the 20th century. He actively avoided publicity, keeping his criminal acts to a minimum (compared to other crime bosses, at least). This earned him the nicknames Mr Big and Mr Ten Percent.
Although he never committed any murder himself, this standover man ordered more hits than any other organised crime figure in Sydney. He’s also famous for having spearheaded most of the city’s criminal activity, alongside Abe ‘Mr Sin’ Saffron and George Freeman.
Fayez “Frank” Hakim
Originally from Lebanon, Hakim established his empire in Australia after emigrating to Sydney in 1952. He befriended members of the NSW police (selling rissoles in the old NSW Police Academy canteen) as well as underworld figures like Graham “Croc” Palmer and Lennie McPherson.
McPherson decided to take Hakim under his wing and offered protection to the would-be gangster. Because of Hakim’s rising power and influence, he became the first prominent Lebanese criminal and, eventually, the unofficial “godfather” of the Lebanese community.
Today, Lebanese crime gangs in Sydney and all over Australia are notorious for weapons & drug trafficking, money laundering, and other crimes. Most gangs settle in Sydney’s rural areas, where police presence isn’t as strong as it is in the city.
Crime Families in Sidney: The Darwiche–Razzak–Fahda Family Conflict
Three Australian-Lebanese crime families in Sydney – the Darwiches, Razzaks, and Fahdas – were involved in a series of killings and other violent acts from 2001 to 2009. The crime families mostly targeted each other, after Adnan Darwiche and Bilal Razzak (both sons of their families’ respective patriarchs) got into a brawl at Nemra’s Cafe in Bankstown on February 25, 2001.
There were multiple acts of senseless violence, including weapons theft, shootings, and murders. It ended in 2009, with the death of Abdul Darwiche. In that 8-year period, several men from each family were arrested, charged, and convicted for their crimes.
Famous Gangs in Sydney
The Asian gangs in Sydney were infamous for street-level heroin trade. Sydney Morning Herald warned: "Criminal gangs in the Vietnamese community are increasingly heavily armed, are moving into drugs and gambling, establishing links with Australian crime figures, and becoming involved in standover rackets in their own community."
In the mid-1980s, Cabramatta and Bankstown gangs swarmed the streets, including a particularly notorious Vietnamese gang called 5T. The gang was active until 1999, when their leader was murdered outside a Western Sydney pub after his release from prison.
Middle Eastern gangs, on the other hand, have made extortion against nightclubs, ram raids, and car theft more common in the CDB. Historical rivalries between gangs continue to build up, making Middle Eastern crime in Sydney more dangerous than ever before.
Sydney Gang Wars: The Battle Of Blood Alley & The Battle of Kellet Street
When the Pistol Licensing Act of 1927 was passed, gangs had a much more difficult time accessing guns. So the weapon of choice switched from guns to sharp razors, creating so-called “razor gangs”. Two of the prominent razor gangs were associated with famous madams Kate Leigh and Tilly Devine.
In 1929, it was discovered that gang lord Phil Jeffs was using boracic acid to cut his cocaine, causing major conflict between the two gangs. The resulting warfare was called the Battle of Blood Alley. Later that year, a second fight ensued. Members from both gangs consumed copious amounts of alcohol and cocaine before fighting what would later be known as the Battle of Kellett Street.
Western Sydney Gangs
Just recently, in July of this year, a fight broke out – in broad daylight – in a busy intersection outside Westfield Parramatta. One of the brawlers was spotted with a large knife in his hand. According to Sydney police on 7news, they suspect that the conflict was between two rival gangs in Western Sydney.
Should I Be Worried?
With all of the gangs and crime families running around, should you be worried? Well, not so much. Criminal activity in New South Wales has been at an all-time low, and Sydney has even been dubbed the 5th safest city in the world. The NSW Police Force works hard with the court system and Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research to keep Campbelltown crime rates, and crime rates all across the city, low and safe for all of Sydney’s residents.