Welcome to the Sydney Crime Museum,
the history site of a city founded by criminals.

Organised Crime

Famous Murders

Imagined Crime

The Crimes of Lennie Lawson

One of the strangest of Sydney's murderers was successful comic artist Lennie Lawson, creator of The Lone Avenger and the Hooded Rider. Lawson also ran a photographic studio, and in 1954 was hired to photograph five models at Terrey Hills.
Category archive

Australian Prohibition by Alfred McCoy

Disorganised Crime

Reviewing the evidence from the major drug importation cases of the 1970s leads to two conclusions: (1) Australian organized crime was definitely involved in the drug traffic, and (2) it had carried its traditional milieu-style of operations into the organization of its various drug smuggling ventures. Instead of forming itself… Keep Reading

The Sinclair Gang

On Thursday, 12 October 1978, Sydney commuters were for once genuinely surprised by the blazing headlines of the city’s afternoon tabloids. Under the bold headline ‘League Star Heroin Charge’, the page one story of the Daily Mirror’s late final edition began: ‘Paul Hayward, the Newtown Rugby League star, has been… Keep Reading

Mr Asia

Obscured from the Royal Commission by the stubborn silence of the Double Bay mob, the exceptional violence of its heroin enterprise was revealed in a series of brutal murders involving its New Zealand affiliates in 1978-9. Requiring a permanent drug buyer based in Southeast Asia, the ‘Double Bay mob’ seems… Keep Reading

Heroin Comes to Sydney

Although the demand for heroin increased sharply after 1977, large quantities of Southeast Asian No. 3 granular grade had already begun entering Sydney in 1974-5. Initially developed by middle-class trendies like James Sweetnam and the young Palm Beach tourist-adventurers, the drug trade was increasingly dominated by organized crime syndicates as… Keep Reading

The Woodward Royal Commission

Despite sensibilities blunted by Sydney’s shock-horror school of journalism, the New South Wales public was quite genuinely aroused by the news of Mackay’s disappearance. In Griffith itself there was an ‘immediate conclusion’ that Mackay was dead and his death was ‘linked with his campaign against drug trafficking’. Ethnic tensions implicit… Keep Reading

The Murder of Donald Mackay

Despite the size and sophistication of drug smuggling operations like those organized by Murray Riley and the Moylans, the amount of cannabis entering Australia’s drug market from foreign sources was dwarfed by illegal domestic production. Hidden midst the fastness of eastern Australia’s pastures and farmlands, large marijuana plantations, usually covering… Keep Reading

The Voyage of the Anoa

Working in partnership with Wally Dean, Riley plundered at least three Sydney clubs and established several club service companies to do contract work for South Sydney Juniors. Through his work in the N.S.W. police and the club movement Murray Riley acquired contacts in the Sydney milieu, most importantly with Leonard… Keep Reading

The Suitcase Gang

The first major drug smuggling operation uncovered during the 1970s was sophisticated cannabis import ring directly linked to organized crime. Headed by Mr and Mrs Michael Moylan, Jr, a middle-aged Sydney couple who were heirs to the city’s most prestigious illegal casino, the 33 Club, the ring used some thirty… Keep Reading

The 1970s: Drugs in General

During the 1970s the Sydney syndicates, gathering capital and political contacts through control over illegal gambling, expanded into drug trafficking. Although N.S.W. police have long been unwilling to admit this involvement, the diversification of underworld investments from more ‘acceptable’ illicit services like prostitution, abortion and gambling into narcotics is a… Keep Reading

The Corset Gang

A┬áremarkable Australian narcotics ring led by N.S.W. police officers became the first major group ever arrested in the United States for smuggling Asian heroin. Convinced that most of America’s heroin was being supplied by what was known in popular parlance as the ‘Marseille connection’, U.S. narcotics agents devoted most of… Keep Reading

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