Organised crime’s super-glam makeover
Scrolling through their Instagram, these women look like so many others - sharing pictures and sharing gossip.
But behind their smiling selfies are drugs, extortion and even murder.
Manchester-based Shazia Din and Natalie Wrafter are top bosses of a crime gang selling heroin and cocaine in the north of England.
The 'Godmothers' were filmed exchanging bundles of hard drugs and cash from the boot of Shazia's $90,000 Mercedes before their arrest in 2019.
Shazia, 42 - dubbed the 'Queen of Crime' in underworld circles - even held Natalie's young child in her arms as they concluded the deal.
Now it has been revealed how the women are taking over mafia-like organisations all over the world, The Sun reports.
RUTHLESS RISE TO THE TOP
In Britain, the number of female gang members is rising, with experts saying the female criminals are becoming even more bloodthirsty and ruthless than their male counterparts.
The Office for National Statistics says roughly half of the 27,000 child gang members in England are now girls.
And a 2019 UK government-commissioned report found the number of female offenders is substantial and growing.
Shazia, from Bury, Greater Manchester, used female drugs couriers to transport heroin and cocaine across northern England as they were less likely to be stopped, communicating with them via encrypted EncroChat software.
Meanwhile, her Instagram accounts present her as a glamorous mum and entrepreneur.
One picture shows her daughter with a pet French bulldog in their immaculate home.
Another sees Shazia sporting perfect, white teeth as she smiles for a selfie with a child blowing a kiss next to her.
The Instagram account of her Beauty Booth UK company that sold mascara, lipstick and body lotion online - but was also a front for Din OCG's money laundering activities - uses photos of celebrities such as Meghan Markle to promote its products.
Natalie - who Shazia was supplying with huge quantities of drugs - seems an unlikely crime boss.
Photos from her Facebook page show her posing with her son, pulling silly faces or staring into the camera.
But police now know she had risen to become the head of a Doncaster-based crime family after her father Peter Wrafter, 57, was jailed in 2019 for possession of a revolver and 1kg of heroin.
Greater Manchester Police's Operation Heart exposed both women's double lives in July 2019.
A surveillance operation caught them exchanging drugs and cash in Doncaster Prison car park after Natalie visited her father.
Officers later seized 60kg of class-A drugs, £300,000 ($A536,000) in cash, Rolex watches, a diamond ring, and a handgun and ammunition.
Last year Natalie was sentenced to 11 years at Manchester Crown Court while Shazia was given 15 years.
Detective Inspector Lee Griffin, of Greater Manchester police's serious and organised crime group, said: "It's not common to have two females at the very top of organisations like that, but we are now seeing females involved in organised crime groups.
"They are often being used as couriers because they are less likely to be stopped. It can also be common for families to involve females in the family business."
The rise of female 'Godmothers' is being tracked by criminologists all over the world.
In Mexico, the crime boss dubbed La China - real name Melissa Margarita Calderon Ojeda - killed 180 people over 10 years before she was arrested, aged 31, in 2015.
It was her boyfriend who dobbed her into the police, fearing he was about to become her next victim.
Another Mexican, Claudia Ochoa Felix, became known as the "Kim Kardashian of organised crime" after she established herself as the top assassin for drug lord Joaquin Guzman, aka El Chapo.
Pictures posted online saw her showing off both her guns and her hourglass figure. She met with an untimely end though, being strangled in September 2019 at the age of 32 by a rival.
Research shows there had been a 400 per cent rise in the number of women imprisoned for federal crimes in Mexico in the three years leading up to Felix's death.
"There's an inextricable link between sex and death in the culture of these female killers in seeking to be the most desired by the narco men," Virginia Commonwealth University professor Andrew Chesnut said.
"They seek also to be the most brutal among their group of peers."
In Poland, blonde beauty Magdalena Kralka, 30, became the number two boss of a drug and extortion gang based in Krakow.
She rose to the top after her boyfriend was shot dead by anti-terror cops in 2017 and is now on the run, one of Interpol's most wanted women in the world.
SHOOTING THE GLASS CEILING
Italy, the historical home of the mafia, is another country where male dominance is being overturned, with women now running around a third of crime gangs in Sicily.
Nunzia D'Amico, 37, replaced her brothers as the head of the feared D'Amico crime family before she was killed in a hail of bullets as she pushed her baby in a pram in Naples in 2015.
Raffaella D'Alterio, nicknamed the "Big Kitten", became another Naples gang leader following the death of her crime boss husband. She was arrested in 2012, aged 46.
Corrado De Rosa, a psychiatrist and expert witness in mafia trials, said at the time: "Women are not usually the ones who commit violence. But today they are much more active and powerful.
"They know the workings of the mafia and they are increasingly at the centre of its business, and they study and learn."
Women are also becoming key members of gangs operating in Barbados in the Caribbean.
Barbados Criminal Justice and Research Planning Unit (CJRPU) director Cheryl Willoughby said: "If we were to look at the gang culture in Barbados - and yes we do have gangs in Barbados - our research shows that some of these young women are masterminds of some of the serious crimes that we're seeing.
"They have a big influence over what is happening at the community level and certainly we would see a shift in the nature of criminal behaviour among our young women."
This article was first published by The Sun and has been reproduced with permission
Originally published as Organised crime's super-glam makeover