The Johnson Crew originated in the Lozells district of Birmingham in the 1980s when young black men banded together to protect their local communities from white power skinheads. One of the founding members was Arthur "Super D" Ellis, whose daughter, Charlene, was murdered in 2003.
The gang members are very close-knit, often having lived on the same street for years and attended the same school. Over the years, as many members found themselves being excluded from school, they turned to petty street crime before progressing into fully fledged gangsters with a growing interest and influence in the city's burgeoning drugs market. By the late Eighties, the Johnson Crew controlled most of the city's drug supply and were prominent in nightclub security. They were making tens of thousands of pounds a week.
Disagreements over how to spend this money led to some members leaving to set up a rival firm. Basing themselves in a café, the Burger Bar Boys (as they became known) were bitter rivals to the Johnson Crew from day one. As crack cocaine swept through the city's poorest neighbourhoods, money poured into the gangs. The rivalry escalated, and so did the violence.
To date, the war between the two gangs has cost dozens of lives.
The war between the Johnson Crew and the Burger Bar Boys during the Nineties led to West Midlands Police havng the second highest armed call-outs in the UK. Staff at Birmingham's hospitals, having been called out to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, found themselves so adept at treating gunshot wounds that they already had all the battlefield skills needed for treating injured soldiers.