The Krays were identitical twins Ronnie and Reggie. Ronnie and Reggie also had a brother a few years older than them. They Kray Twins were born in London in 1928.
Ronnie and Reggie grew up in a working class family. In the Second World War their father did not want to serve in the army. He ran away to avoid being a soldier. The police kept coming to the house looking for their father. This gave the Krays a lifelong dislike of the police. Apart from that their family was law abiding. There was nothing in their background to make them criminals.
The Krays were not intelligent. They were disruptive at school and bullied the others. They left school at the earliest opportunity. They were petty thieves and street thugs from their mid teens. They were both talented boxers and perhaps could have gone professional.
In 1948 the Krays were conscripted into the army. However, they refused to obey orders. They were very strong and could push the sergeants around. They were arrested by the army and sent to the army prison. Through a mixture of charm and intimidation they won around the soldiers who were supposed to be guarding them. In fact they had an easy time in prison.
In 1950 the Krays got out of the army prison. They returned to crime in London. They ran protection rackets. Shopkeepers and restauranteurs were frightened into paying them. They also ran illegal bars. The Kray twins did a scam called the Long Firm. They would set up a business selling something cheap and popular like socks or bread. They would hire someone else as manager. The Krays would have no paper trail leading to them. They would sell the products at a small profit. They would build up trust with suppliers. Then they would place a very big order and buy credit. They would then sell all the items and disappear. The suppliers would never be paid. The manager would be legally responsible and the Krays would have the profit. They would threaten him with death not to name them.
Ronnie Kray was a homosexual in an era when gay sex was illegal. Reggie Kray was straight. Ronnie Kray would often rape young men. Ronnie would take a teenage boxer to a smart restaurant for dinner. They would have a lot to drink. Ronnie would then arrange to share a bedroom with him. The young man would accept as Ronnie was picking up the bill. Ronnie would have told the management to put only one bed in there. Ronnie would then rape the boy. No one dared tell on Ronnie. He could be a very powerful enemy.
The Krays organised robberies too. They had many men working for them. They became wealthy. They liked to mix with high society. They were friends with prominent journalists and famous actors. The Krays were often in the newspapers and on television. They claimed to be honest businessmen. They were friends with a Conservative politician named Lord Boothby.
The Krays were rivals of other gangs. The Richardson Gang was the other main criminal syndicate in London.
The Krays would sometimes kidnap and torture members of the other gang. These men who be stripped naked and severly beaten up. They would then be forced to mop up the blood with their underpants. They would then be compelled to mop up the blood with their underpants. They Krays also had horrific tempers. If they were insulted they would brutally attack the person they thought had slighted them..
The Krays did not deal in drugs. Drugs were not widely taken in those days. They controlled an area of East London. They tried to prevent petty crime. Some people adopted an attitude of – if you cannot beat them join them. People in East London were told by the Krays to come to them with problems to sort out and not the police. Some people admired the Krays wealth. The Krays were occasionally generous. They liked showing off. They also knew that popularity would reduce the changes of them going to prison.
The Krays were charged with running an illegal drinking den. They were found not guilty.
In 1967 the Krays decided to kill another gangster called George Cornell who had offended them. He publicly called Ronnie ”a fat poof”. George Cornell was shot dead by Ronnie Kray in Blind Beggar Pub in London. A couple of years later the Krays decided to rub out Jack the Hat McVitie. Jack the Hat always wore a hat to hide his baldness which he found embarrassing. Jack the Hat had been paid to kill someone by the Krays. McVitie had not carried out the contract killing but kept the money. The Krays decided that McVitie must be killed to warn others not to rip them off. McVitie was stabbed to death and his body was dumped at sea. It has never been recovered. Several witnesses saw the murder. The police arrested the Krays. With the Krays off the streets the police were able to persuade some eyewitnesses to testify against the Krays. These people were very brave. The risk of revenge attacks by the Krays subordinates was high. Ronnie and Reggie were found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. It is suspected that the Krays murdered several other people but they were only ever proven to have killed one person.
Then Kray Gang soon broke up. Members of the gang took its assets and founded their own criminal outfits.
In 1995 Ronnie Kray was dying of cancer. He was given benevolent parole when it was estimated he had under a month left to live. He died only a month after he left prison. In 2003 Reggie Kray was terminally ill. He too was let out a couple of months before he died.
It is thought that the two were mentally ill. They were at time uncontrollably violent. It was not entirely calculating. Sometimes it was sheer rage rather than for gain. People sometimes say ”it was much better when Ronnie and Reggie were around. They were good to their mother. That is what East London is all about.” They never dealt in drugs.