IN what appears to be the largest single seizure of cocaine in the UK, the authorities have charged nine Turkish men as part of the smuggling probe into more than three tonnes of the drug.
The nine men, aged between 26 and 63, all appeared before Aberdeen Sheriff’s Court yesterday, charged with possession of a controlled drug after an operation last week which saw the tug they crewed, MV Hamal, intercepted by Royal Navy and Border Force vessels.
The operation followed a tip off from the French customs after the tug, registered to Marshall Islands company Kiev Shipping and Trading Corporation, and flying a Tanzanian flag, was spotted 100 miles off the Scottish coast heading for Hamburg port. The German port has in recent years become a mirror to Antwerp as a shipping gateway for the introduction of South American cocaine into Europe. French sources believe the drugs could have been loaded onto the vessel in the Canary Islands early in April where it had docked.
Officers from the National Crime Agency working in conjunction with Police Scotland and the Royal Navy boarded the boat and brought it ashore to Aberdeen last week. French sources have estimated the seizure at more than two tonnes with a search of the boat continuing for several days.
The largest previous UK seizure of cocaine was in May 2011 in Southampton when a 1.2 tonnes load connected to Dutch-moroccan gangster, Samir Bouyakhrichan, later assassinated in Marbella, Spain, was seized from a luxury cruiser.
Though searches of the boat are expected to be completed by tomorrow, the load seized in Aberdeen could amount to as much as the total 2.4 tonnes of cocaine seized in the UK for the year 2011/12.
Seven men from Istanbul appeared in court yesterday.Mustafa Ceviz, 54, Ibrahim Dag,47, Mumin Sahin, 45, Mahammet Seckin, 26, Umit Colakel, 38, Kayacan Dalgakiran, 63, Emin Ozmen, 50, were remanded in custody along with two men other Turkish men arrested on the boat; Abdulkadir Cirik, 31, from Mersin, and Mustafa Guven,47, from Yozgat. Investigations are continuing into the gang behind the smuggling plot.
This seizure comes just 10 days after 2.25 tonnes of cocaine was seized from a yacht off the Martinique, the largest ever by French customs, in an operation which also involved the National Crime Agency.
In the past year large scale cocaine and heroin shipments which have been intercepted by the authorities have led to crime gangs in Netherlands, with links to Turkey and Morocco, executing a series of assassinations of significant gang members across the globe in an apparent power struggle.
UPDATE: Since this article was published, the National Crime Agency has confirmed that the drugs amount to more than three tonnes with a value in excess on the street of more than £500 million see National Crime Agency
STEFAN Eggermont was just pulling into a parking space in the dimly lit street near his Amsterdam home when the assassin came. Death came swiftly and without mercy or recognition. It was a “settlement of business” and the usual omerta code of silence would follow.
The 30-year-old father-of-one arrived in Conrad Street in his blue Fiat Punto at around 1.40am after spending the evening with brother Jordi watching Netherlands beat Brazil 3-0in the World Cup third place play-off in July this year.
Almost as soon as Stefan shut down the engine and opened his car door the assassin was upon him, riddling him with automatic gun fire. But Stefan was no gangster, he was a well-liked man working hard as a customer service manager at a web-based marketing firm. His only crime was that he lived near to and drove the same make and colour of car as the intended target.
He had become the first civilian casualty in a bloody war currently raging between two Dutch gangs over a missing £14 million cocaine shipment most of which was destined for the UK, which has now claimed at least 14 lives. When death came for him swiftly that evening Stefan was yards from his home where his partner and three-year-old child were waiting for him and yet he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Finding no criminal or other motive in Stefan’s back story, Dutch detectives now believe the intended target was the brother of a man caught up in the feud, who drove the same car, lived nearby and often used Stefan’s parking spot.
According to Openbaar Ministerie, the Dutch justice ministry which is investigating the murders, the origin to this river of blood spills from a stolen batch of cocaine in the early part of 2012, when a gang known as the Turtles, ripped off a Dutch gang in the Belgian port of Antwerp. In March of that year customs in Antwerp seized 200 kilos of cocaine but unknown to them at the time, it was only part of the load. They believe now a batch of the drug had been stolen and had begun turning up in kilo amounts, selling for a lower than usual price.
The British Connections
At least two of the victims had links to a British gangster currently at large, named Robert Dawes, who in documents written by the Serious Organised Crime Agency, has been described as a “highly significant international criminal wanted for murder in Holland and drug importation in the UK”. Dawes was named in a Dutch court as the man who ordered the murder of innocent Dutch schoolteacher Gerard Meesters in November 2002.
Mr Meesters had been targeted because the criminals believed his sister Janette and her friend Madeleine Brussen had absconded with a shipment of drugs belonging to Dawes. Dutch phone taps later picked up the British gang saying the “fucking Thelma and Louise” pair had been taught a lesson and someone had paid with their life. British man, Daniel Sowerby, a foot soldier of the Dawes Organised Crime Group, is currently serving life for the shooting but he refused to say in court who had given the orders for fear of reprisals against his own family in the UK.
Wouter Laumans, respected Dutch crime journalist and co-author of recent book “Mocro Maffia”, charting the rise of the new Dutch Moroccan organised crime gangs explained: “The seizure In Antwerp was not reported in the media until recently so the gang thought all of it had been ripped. Then all hell has been let loose. There is no doubt in my mind that a lot of this cocaine was on its way to the UK where they can get a higher price for it. These guys are working with the British without a doubt.Its like some kind of Guy Ritchie film except its not funny.”
A trusted intermediary was dispatched by the Dutch Moroccan gang. Notorious Dutch underworld boss, Gwenette Martha; previously convicted of threats to Gerard Meesters before his death, knew the Turtle gang and resolved to extract several million euros as a fine in lieu of the missing cocaine. Whatever deal he struck did not appear to meet the expectations of his employers and Martha was then in the crosshairs of the gang which had hired him, believing he had double crossed them.
A failed assassination attempt before Christmas last year was finally fulfilled in May when Martha was shot dead in an Amsterdam surburb as he came out of a kebab shop. Martha, who had taken to wearing a bullet proof vest, was two days out of police custody himself after being caught with firearms in Dam Square. Police believed he had been on his way to “liquidate” a rival boss. When he came out of the kebab shop he was hit by 80 rounds from two or more AK 47 rifles. Bullet torn brickwork and twisted metal testified to the damage to nearby restaurants, homes and cars and to the sheer luck that no bystanders had been struck by rounds from the weapon.
Wouter Laumans said: “It was a miracle that a member of the public was not hit. But the miracles ended with Stefan Eggermont being shot and there will be more cases of Stefan if more is not done to control the situation.”
Most of the cocaine coming through Antwerp, estimated by the authorities to be 200 tonnes in 2012, is bound for the UK and Ireland. Cocaine will sell at around (Euros) 50,000 per kilo in the UK compared to (Euros) 30,000 in Netherlands with wholesale prices coming down over the past 10 years.
Death visits the man known as Scarface or Scarry
A second British link to the victims emerged in August this year when Samir “Scarface” Bouyakhrichan, 36, a major figure in the Dutch moroccan underworld and believed to be one of the investors in the missing cocaine was shot dead near Marbella, Spain. Like Gwenette Martha, Dutch investigators believe “Scarface” had done business with Spanish based Robert Dawes. Bouyakhrichan was also believed to be an investor in the £300 million worth of cocaine seized in Southampton in 2011, the largest seizure to date in the UK.
Bouyakhrichan had been arrested in Spain and extradited over the tragic death of 12-year-old Danny Gubbels. In July 2010 seven gunmen using AK 47’s shot up a trailer park home in Breda, Netherlands where the Gubbels family lived after a member of the family was suspected of stealing a large batch of cocaine. A ricochet from one of the rounds fired struck Danny and killed him. Two men, including Tyrone Gillard, from Leeds, were convicted of manslaughter and are currently serving 16 years. Bouyakhrichan, who was suspected of being one of the investors in the stolen load, was released after seven days of questioning but never charged.
The death of innocence and the AK-47
The shootings have shocked the Dutch public because of the brazen nature. In several incidents the gunmen have been using AK 47’s in their shootouts; this a measure against the popularity of the bullet proof vest which several of the victims were wearing to no avail. In a failed assassination attempt in an Amsterdam cafe recently two innocent bystanders were shot causing serious head injuries in one man and leg injuries in another.
For Janke Verhagen, Stefan Eggermont’s 32-year-old partner and mother of their three-year-old boy, the joy of the summer holiday with Stefan’s parents in Spain seems a lifetime ago.
“We had come back from Spain three days earlier,” she said.”That night he wanted to see the football with Jordi and a friend. When he didn’t come back on time I sent Stefan a text. It was just before I went out to see what the sirens were about so I had texted jokingly “Hey! you still alive?” it went out at 1.37am about the time he was shot. When I got there all I could see was a body lying under a white sheet next to our car, and then I knew. It has been like being in the middle of a Godfather movie.”
Only a few days after Stefan’s murder, Omar Lkhorf, who police believe was the intended target and has now fled abroad, knocked on her door.
“He was just a boy. He was crying and totally distraught. It was genuine. He said it was meant for him and he had come home 30 minutes early that night. I was angry I thought my god, just 30 minutes and maybe it would have been a different story, ” she said. “I am coping. But people don’t seem to understand that it could so easily be their loved one. All it took for Stefan to die was to be driving the same car and living in the area. That seems crazy to me.We need a response from the public.”
Last month Dutch police arrested a 26-year-old man in connection with Stefan’s death after confirming the firearm which killed him had been found at the suspect’s home. But he has told detectives he was holding the weapon for someone he will not name. The suspect does not fit the description of the assassin and he has only been charged with possession of a firearm.
Janke added: “He will get maybe two years but who is directing these young people to do these things? They are the people that need to be caught. The silence cannot continue.”
Netherland’s Openbaar Ministerie, (OM) the equivalent of the Crown Prosecution Service, which is handling the investigation, are braced for more assassinations to come. They are up against gangsters using state-of-the-art trackers and jammers to stay ahead of law enforcement. In Antwerp port they also had the ability to corrupt a customs officer, now serving 14 years and install malicious software into the ports computers to change cargo details so that they would be passed through any checks.
Last week the Dutch authorities had their first major success in what has become a huge investigation draining their resources. One of the ringleaders of one of the gangs involved was jailed for ten years for his role in the first murder which sparked the trail of killings. Benaouf Adaoui, 30, was convicted on Monday of his role in the murder of Najeb Bouhbouh.
When I spoke to the authorities a few weeks ago they were candid. They didn’t believe the killings were over. Spokesman Franklin Wattimena said: “This all started with the missing cocaine in Antwerp and the subsequent murder of Najeb Bouhbouh. We are warning all potential targets when intelligence is received as is our duty.We are also in a difficult situation because the people we are investigating have technology which is beating us. We thought the end to this feud came with Gwenette Martha’s death. That was not to be the case and we do not think it is at an end yet.”
The words of Mr Wattimena proved to be sadly prophetic at around 7.30pm (GMT) last night when 34-year-old Luana Luz Xavier was shot dead in front of her daughter and son in the street in the Amstelveen district of Amsterdam.
Brazilian by birth, she ran a successful clothes shop in Amsterdam’s Nine streets area. But more significantly she was the girlfriend of a kickboxer called Najb Himmich, who was at one time Gwenette Martha’s right hand man and, according to Dutch media sources, had taken charge of Martha’s organised crime group following his death. He had gone underground in recent months.
Wouter Laumans voiced fears that the war has now reached a new desperate level.
“So now they are targeting the wives and girlfriends of gangsters if they can’t find the targets themselves. This is a new low in the Netherlands,” he said.
THE DEATH TOLL:
October 18 2012: Najeb Bouhbouh, 34, gunned down outside the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Antwerp
December 29 2012: Said El Yazidi, 21, and Youseff Lkhorf, 28 were shot dead in an AK 47 wild west shootout near an Amsterdam canal in which gang boss Benaouf Adaoui survived. It was in response to the murder of Najeb Boubouh. Pursuing police were also shot at by the assassins.
March 16 2013: Rida Bennajem, 21, shot dead Amsterdam. Believed to be one of the hitmen involved in murder of Bouhbouh
May 26 2013: Souhail Laachir, 26, shot dead Amsterdam. He was involved in the finances of Benaouf Adaoui
August 24 2013: Chris Bouman, 36, involved in luring Najeb Bouhbouh to the Crowne Plaza, committed suicide in prison awaiting charges on October 18 2012 murder. Police believe he had been threatened while in custody.
February 20 2014: Alexander Gillis,30, friend of Gwenette Martha shot dead Amsterdam
March 22 2014: Mohammed El Mayouri, 30, a shooter for the Benaouf group shot dead Amsterdam
May 22 2014: Gwenette Martha, best friend of Najeb Bouhbouh, shot dead Amsterdam
July 13 2014: Stefan Eggermont shot dead in case of mistaken identity. Investigators believed that the shooters were targeting Omar Lkhorf brother of Youseff Lkhorf killed in December 2012. Omar Lkhorf drove the same car as Stefan, often parked in a similar spot and lived nearby.
August 16 2014: Derkiaoui Van Der Meijden, 34, shot dead Amsterdam. Associate of Gwenette Martha and hit man believed to be involved in the December 29 2012 shootings. Wearing a bullet proof vest he was gunned down by two men brandishing AK 47’s.
August 28 2014: Samir Bouyakhrichan, 36, head of another organised crime group and friend of Benaouf group shot dead Marbella, Spain.
September 3 2014: Massod Amin Hosseini, 26 shot dead Amsterdam. Massod was known on the periphery of both groups.
December 9 2014: Luana Luz Xavier, 34, shot dead in Amstelveen in the street as her two children stood next to her. She was the girlfriend of Najib Himmich.
DANIEL Sowerby, the man convicted of killing an innocent Dutch school teacher in 2002 has spoken for the first time about his boss Robert Dawes.
In a series of interviews with Dutch journalist Martijn Haas for Panorama magazine, Sowerby now 56, acknowledges he will die in the maximum security Lelystad prison 50 miles from Amsterdam where he is serving a life sentence.
Sowerby, a former heroin addict, cuts a sad figure in the interview. His health is failing and his only friend is a parakeet, which eats all the books he has in his cell. He is asked to cast his mind back to November 2002 when he was dispatched on a mission to a surburban house in Groningen, Netherlands.
Sowerby says he was sent to the house with well known Dutch criminal Gwenette Martha, who he did not know previously and three other men. The purpose of the mission had been outlined in the days previous. Two women, Janette Meesters, sister of Gerard and Madeleine Brussen her friend had absconded with a large amount of drugs belonging to Robert Dawes and the mission was to find these two women by threatening their relatives. Sowerby says he remembers nothing of the day that Mr Meesters was brutally gunned down in the hallway of his home with eight gunshot wounds.
But he admits he accompanied Gwenette Martha, recently assassinated in Amsterdam, four days before Meesters death to hand over a phone number to the teacher and warn him he had to call his boss to tell him where Janette Meesters was.
Sowerby is asked about Robert Dawes. He tells Martin Haas the journalist: “I met Dawes several times. He was just like you or me, wearing tracksuit bottoms and a hoodie. I don’t bear him any ill will even though I am in prison, I’m just glad he is not here to get caught. He is a good man, really! Even if he does have arms dealers, drugs dealers and runners on his payroll, he supports a large network of families with mothers and children to look after. I respect him. He has left me alone so I have nothing to fear from him (Dawes).”
Sowerby goes on to explain how he came into contact with the Dawes Cartel after going on the run from HMP North Sea Camp in 2001. Sowerby lived a hand to mouth existence in France before settling near Breda under the name Andrew Love. He had met some members of the Dawes Cartel already when he had been serving some of his prison sentence. When he reconnected with those people, who included Anthony Spencer, (the Coventry smuggler who tutored Dawes in his rise to the top) Sowerby said he was on his uppers and in the grip of a serious heroin addiction.
“I was an addict and I needed to score money. I already knew some of the big boys from prison. The work I did for them was to courier drugs and things and send messages. I was a runner, that was it,” said Sowerby.
On the day Mr Meesters was murdered, traffic cameras caught, the vehicle Sowerby and his co-accused Steven Barnes, a drugs tester for the Dawes Cartel, as it sped through a red light in Groningen. Barnes admitted his involvement but said that he was just the driver and Sowerby was the shooter. But Sowerby has consistently denied this. But now Sowerby admits he has come to the end of the road in his legal battle to appeal his cases. All avenues appear closed now despite his lawyer demanding that judges bring Robert Dawes and Steven Barnes back before the courts to question them.
The full article by Martijn Haas can be found here http://www.elinea.nl/artikel/britse-crimineel-daniel-sowerby-zucht-levenslang-in-nederlandse-cel
The wealthy co-owner of a Premier League football club made a £1m loan to a company controlled by David Hunt – three months after a High Court judge named Mr Hunt as the head of an organised crime network.
A company owned by David Sullivan, the multi-millionaire boss of West Ham United, lent the money to the East End businessman’s property company soon after Mr Justice Simon concluded that Mr Hunt led a gang involved in fraud, money-laundering and “extreme violence”.
The loan was secured against several of Mr Hunt’s properties, including a golf club in Essex and a restaurant once owned by the actor Sir Sean Connery and the late West Ham captain Bobby Moore, who led England to World Cup glory in 1966.
Mr Sullivan’s company, GC CO NO 102 Limited, made the loan to Mr Hunt’s company in October last year. In January, Mr Sullivan, a former pornography tycoon listed as Britain’s 224th richest man with assets worth £400m, placed this company into voluntary liquidation and declared liabilities of just £90, suggesting the loan to Mr Hunt had been quickly repaid.
David Hunt – nicknamed “Long Fella” – was officially exposed last summer in a judgment by Mr Justice Simon after the crime boss brought an unsuccessful libel action against The Sunday Times.
A catalogue of damning claims emerged during the trial, including allegations that Scotland Yard viewed Mr Hunt’s gang, which had operated with impunity for more than 20 years, as “too big” and “too dangerous” to take on. During a covert operation codenamed Blackjack, the Metropolitan Police placed bugging equipment in a car showroom, which picked up an attack by Mr Hunt in which he had slashed the face of a man named Paul Cavanagh, who had upset an associate.
Mr Hunt was arrested and charged with the attack. But the prosecution dropped the case after Mr Cavanagh withdrew his statement to police. A High Court judge would later find that Mr Hunt had intimidated him into not giving evidence for the prosecution. Mr Justice Simon also concluded that Mr Hunt had attacked and threatened to kill Billy Allen, a property developer, in 2006. “It was the sort of power and authority that might be expected from the head of a criminal network,” said the judge, who also ruled that Mr Hunt had engaged in money-laundering.
Three months after the libel trial had concluded, Mr Sullivan’s finance company made the £1m loan to Mr Hunt’s company, Hunt’s UK Properties. The West Ham co-chairman’s loan was secured against several properties including Woolston Manor Golf Club in Chigwell, Essex. This luxurious setting has twice come to the attention of investigators in unconnected matters. In 2006, Metropolitan Police officers raided the club and found cases of Bollinger champagne which had recently been stolen from a lorry. In 2008, Peter Pomfrett, a director at the same club, was jailed for 10 years over his role in a £37.5m fraud.
Two months after Mr Sullivan’s company made the loan to Mr Hunt’s firm, our sister newspaper The Independent revealed a secret Metropolitan Police report – codenamed Operation Tiberius and dated 2002 – which concluded the crime-lord’s gang had been helped to evade justice by a network of corrupt serving and former police officers.
“The Hunt syndicate has developed an extensive criminal empire which has so far evaded significant penetration from law enforcement,” said the Operation Tiberius report. “The syndicate has achieved this invulnerability through a mixture of utilising corrupt police contacts and the intimidation of witnesses brave enough to give evidence against them.” It added: “The Hunt syndicate is one of the most violent groups in north-east London and has been responsible for a series of vicious assaults against debtors and rivals. Their main sphere of influence is drug importation and protection.”
The report by the Met’s anti-corruption team names four Met detectives “associated” with the syndicate, one of whom is high-profile and has given evidence to Parliament. Operation Tiberius reported that corrupt officers betrayed the Met by telling the Hunt syndicate about tracking devices placed on its vehicles, leaking information about police inquiries and carrying out checks on police intelligence databases. Scotland Yard refuses to comment on Operation Tiberius.
In the same month that The Independent reported details of Operation Tiberius, Mr Sullivan placed GC CO NO 102 Limited into voluntary liquidation.
The 65-year-old made his fortune in pornography magazines and sex shops during the 1970s. In 1986, he founded the Sunday Sport newspaper, offering fanciful stories with headlines such as “World War 2 Bomber Found on Moon”. Mr Sullivan moved into sport with the acquisition of Birmingham Football Club in 1993, appointing Karren Brady – star of The Apprentice, who is close to David Cameron and George Osborne – as managing director. He sold up in 2007 and bought West Ham in 2010.
Mr Sullivan’s club has secured Premier League survival this season under manager Sam Allardyce. In two years’ time, West Ham will move into the Olympic stadium in Stratford, east London, which was built for the 2012 Olympic Games using £500m of taxpayers’ money.
A spokesman for Mr Sullivan said: “GC CO NO 102 Limited is a finance company, it makes loans to numerous people and companies. This was a normal commercial loan at a normal commercial rate.”
A spokesperson for Mr Hunt said: “My client runs a perfectly legitimate property company which, like most property companies, borrows money from time to time from commercial lenders. He has no further comment to make about this matter.”
Robert Dawes captured on surveillance cameras at airport
GANGSTER Robert Dawes has stepped up his campaign to become a newly anointed Saint by creating his own website designed to hit back at some of the material I have published about the man described by law enforcement experts as a “highly significant international criminal”.
You can view for yourself the case that he puts forward at www.stateurcase.com . However since Dawes’ webpage has been created there have been some new developments. On December 20th 2012 the judge at Court 32 in Madrid decided to re-indite Dawes over the 187 kilos of cocaine seized back in September 2007.
The rogatory letter bungle, which I have previously written about in The Guardian , has been resolved and Judge JoseSantiago Torres Prieto has finally received the evidence he had been asking for from the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency since April 2011. The cause of the delay of the documents remains a mystery however and although Eurojust, the body based in The Hague responsible for passing on the evidence requests is continuing its investigation into the matter, they have so far refused to provide any explanation.
The translation states that Dawes was summoned before Court 32 on Boxing day 2011 at 11am. It states that the British authorities have now provided a series of facts and evidence which vindicate all the previous statements made by Karl Hayes, one of Dawes couriers, currently serving a seven and half year sentence in Spain over the cocaine seizure. “specifically the participation in that group of David Wombwell, Andrew Cunliffe, and above all Gavin Dawes, being especially relevant the surveillance carried out by officers from SOCA on 7 August 2007 into Karl Hayes and David Wombwell, as well as the result of David Wombwell’s statement of 31 October 2007, and the payments arising from the notes found in Gavin Dawes’ seized diary, the conclusion is reached that the transfer and the operation were to be carried out in the interest of and under the orders of an organised group under the directions of Robert Dawes.”
Hayes had said in his statements that the operation had been led by Robert Dawes and he had been threatening him (Hayes) “for some time”.
The new indictment also states that Dawes has been ordered to pay a bond to the court of just over 7 million Euros against a possible fine if convicted of the drug trafficking offence. The Judge states that Dawes assets will be seized if the bond is not paid.
It now only remains for the Dubai authorities to send their evidence which they seized when Dawes was first arrested at his home in Dubai in June 2008. The details of the search by Dubai police can be foundhere. (you probably can’t find it here anymore..wait for more news soon 18/02/16)
In a separate development it appears that one of Dawes’ closest lieutenants, Raphael Nasr, has left Dubai and made his way to the UK following the Sunday Times article which exposed his business links in April last year with Robert Dawes and Jamil Karzai, nephew of Afghan president Hamid Karzai. Nasr spent some time with friends celebrating Christmas in the UK.
Nasr may be of interest to any of the British authorities investigating Dawes. At one time he held the keys to much of Dawes’ financial transactions.
Robert Dawes is free again. Another botched operation or is something more sinister going on?
EARLIER this year I wrote about the case of Robert Dawes , head of an organised crime group which has left a trail of devastation in its wake through its activities over the last 10 years.
Dawes was finally arrested in Dubai on an International Arrest Warrant issued by the Spanish authorities and flown to Madrid in May this year. It seemed as though the law enforcement agencies had finally managed to get their man after countless investigations against him dating back more than a decade spanning Holland, Belgium, Dubai, Spain and the UK.
The Spanish were “cock-a-hoop” over the arrest to the extent that they issued a statement saying, in targeting Dawes, they had seized millions of pounds worth of drugs including 5.7 tons of cannabis resin, 100 kilos of heroin, 210 kilos of cocaine as well as four firearms, 5.4 million pounds’ worth of property and 90,000 pounds in cash. They described Dawes as “the boss of one of England’s most important drug trafficking organisations”.
Dawes was placed in custody in Madrid and prosecutors began to finalise their case which centered on the details of Operation Halbert, the SOCA led operation which focused on Dawes which was set up in 2006 and which had already led to three British men and a Columbian being jailed for between seven and half years and eight years in the Spanish courts after 187 kilos of high purity cocaine was seized near Madrid.
Then on September 12 in Madrid a strange thing happened. Dawes was suddenly released from custody by a Spanish judge presiding in Court 32. The officers at the head of the Guardia Civil elite Central Operative Unit which had targeted Dawes were not informed of his release and even a week later the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) were denying that the charges against Dawes had been dropped and that he was at liberty. SOCA argued he had merely been released on bail back to his home on the Mijas Costa. Yet there was no surveillance in place for a man known to have several false passports and who has a penchant for fleeing to countries with no extradition agreements such as Dubai. It has since emerged that one of the reasons prosecutors in Spain offered no evidence against Dawes is that one of his associates – British man Karl Hayes who had been interviewed at length by officers from SOCA while in a Spanish prison – was now refusing to make a statement against Dawes.
Returning to SOCA’s role in this matter; it has a number of serious questions to answer about the way this botched operation has unfolded. An official spokesman for SOCA denied their primary role in investigating Dawes. It was, said a spokesman, a “Spanish operation” which SOCA simply assisted “where required” . That is a strange assertion in itself since, according to documents filed in the Spanish courts, SOCA was the lead agency on Operation Halbert and the main involvement of the Spanish authorities was in making the initial arrests on their soil, seizing the cocaine and subsequently applying for Dawes extradition from Dubai. All the intelligence for the operation came from SOCA including the tracking of vehicles, and if SOCA had no primary role in this investigation why did its officers fly out to Spain to interview one of Dawes’ associates Karl Hayes a number of times?
And what are we to make of the Spanish courts statement on Robert Dawes release. This is what they had to say. “The Provincial Court in Madrid has revoked the indictment of Robert Dawes issued by the Court of Instruction number 32 and so he is at liberty. The magistrates at the Provincial Court understand that, over and above the important report by the Central Operative Unit (of the Guardia Civil) which is found in the proceedings, it is necessary to wait for a response from the Commission of Dubai, with reference to the searches in the case, and, above all, the Commission of the United Kingdom. When the judicial authorities of those countries respond with evidence the case will be taken up again, but neither of the two commissions has yet commented and there is no indication of when they might do so.”
So in effect Spain is blaming the UK for failing to provide it with the evidence it had requested to keep Dawes in custody.
Robert Dawes has been identified in no less than nine large national criminal investigations in the UK involving large scale drug shipments since 2000. In addition he has been identified by Nottinghamshire Police as the man suspected of commissioning the murder of David Draycott, in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire in October 2002, a case in which no-one has been charged. Additionally, Dutch investigators have evidence that Dawes sponsored a similar hit against an innocent school teacher, Gerard Meesters in Groningen, Holland in November 2002. As recent as late last year a SOCA document described Robert Dawes as “a highly significant international criminal” and in the prosecution of Dawes brother John, who received a 24 year sentence for drug supply and money laundering, Robert Dawes was named as the head of the organisation.
When Dutch investigators visited the UK in 2004 to speak to potential witnesses with intimate knowledge of Dawes’ drug smuggling and money laundering operations, those witnesses all pointed the finger at Dawes saying they believed he had ordered Gerard Meesters murder. None would make a formal statement to Dutch prosecutors fearing reprisals. Some went further. Dawes, they believed, was an “asset” who was being protected in some way from prosecution because of the information he held. A statement they said, implicating Dawes, would not be conducive to their long term health if a prosecution failed. Even police officers who have investigated Dawes in the past are coming to the conclusion that Dawes is a “Teflon Don” to whom no prosecution will stick. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen but the latest twist in the life of this latter day Godfather does nothing to debunk the theory that some hold that Dawes is in some way being protected. At present Robert Dawes’ criminal CV appears to be an example of 11 years worth of clumsy law enforcement work or someone somewhere has been placing spanners in the works deliberately.I am told the Spanish authorities now have no idea where Dawes is. Either way at present Robert Dawes appears to be bullet-proof as far as our law enforcement agencies are concerned and I hear that he is even lining up a 200,000 Euro claim against the Spanish authorities for wrongful arrest. Priceless.
The Afghan links to a very British organised crime group…………
FAMILY of the Afghan president Hamid Karzai have formed connections with a British gangster who is wanted for major drug trafficking and murder and has been conducting a money-laundering operation from Dubai.
A four month investigation by journalists has uncovered evidence that three nephews of the Afghan president – one of whom is a former Afghan MP and another is a government intelligence chief – are linked to Robert Dawes, a 39-year-old drugs kingpin who has figured in eight separate national UK crime investigations but has evaded capture.
Dawes, named by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) in recent court documents as a “highly significant international criminal” is currently in prison in Dubai fighting extradition to Spain where the authorities want him to face trial over a 200-kilo haul of 82 per cent purity cocaine discovered outside Madrid in September 2007.
He is also wanted in Holland where he was named in court as the man who ordered the murder of an innocent school teacher, Gerard Meesters, in Groningen in November 2002. Meesters was targeted simply for being a relative of someone who had crossed Dawes.
Detectives in Britain are understood to want to interview Dawes about major drug trafficking in heroin and cocaine, money laundering and the unsolved murder in October 2002 of David Draycott from Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, who like Meesters was assassinated at his home.
Dawes fled the UK for Spain nearly ten years ago and has spent much of his time shuttling between the Mijas Costa and Dubai. In the intervening period police swooped on members of his cartel, including his brother John and father, Arthur. Both were jailed in 2005 for drugs offences and money laundering.
Since 2007 Dawes has stayed in Dubai running a money-laundering operation. Dubai has long been considered a magnet for money-laundering, particularly in relation to Afghanistan, where much of the political elite has second homes.
It was at the centre of last year’s scandal over the misuse of Kabul Bank by its shareholders, who had been loaning to themselves in order to buy property there. The US embassy in Afghanistan estimates $10m a day leaves the country for Dubai, much of it the proceeds of illegal activity from the country’s heroin trade, the leading export of the country.
Reporters began investigating Dawes’ connections with the Karzai family in November last year after receiving information that Jamil Karzai, a nephew of the Afghan president, had been seen at Dawes offices meeting the Briton’s right-hand man, Raphael Nasr.
An undercover reporter approached Manchester-born Nasr, who is also on the radar of the SOCA and the Guardia Civil, posing as a broker representing a client looking for business partners in Afghanistan.
Dawes and Nasr jointly run Argosta Emirates General Trading, a Dubai-based company, and Nasr also controls Syncon, a construction company registered to operate in Afghanistan.
In telephone conversations Nasr boasted of strong links not only to Jamil Karzai, but also his brothers, Yama and Ajmal. Yama Karzai now occupies a position within the Afghan intelligence services. Nasr also stated that Yama’s brother Ajmal Karzai is now the president of Syncon.
Although he was initially wary (“I’m not talking to a reporter or something? It’s just that I’m going to be introducing you to some people and they can help in there”) Nasr said his connections could easily facilitate work for the reporter’s client.
He said: “Yama is like my brother. I am in Kabul often and stay with his family. He has just been made head of four departments and is a general. I could ask as in favours from him.
“Obviously of course we have ways of getting in, we have ins, there are people who are favoured there, do you understand?
“The president now [of Syncon] is Ajmal Karzai. He was working with the US government on special operations and then left the government because the job they gave him was to do with drug enforcement which he didn’t [want], which was a high risk kind of job.
“So you know again, you’ve got a gentleman there who knows, who took me to three ministers just via a mobile telephone call.
“Of course we are going to give you favouritism, of course there is, it’s all over the world.”
Nasr said that contruction contracts in Afghanistan given to “triple A companies” could be sub-contracted out to the reporter’s client for an “administration fee”, but only with the use of his connections to open doors.
He said: “We can go sit with them and they say give us a five percent, three per cent administration fee and that’s your contract. Whereas they wouldn’t do that with other people.”
Nasr put the reporter in telephone contact with Jamil Karzai, who was in Dubai. The Afghan, who heads the Youth Solidarity Party, was an MP in Kabul until losing his seat in 2010.
Jamil Karzai, who was a regular visitor to the Argosta offices, told the undercover reporter: “I know him [Raphael Nasr] from Dubai, so he has been to Afghanistan, there are a lot of things we can do in Afghanistan it’s a matter of being here and witnessing for yourself what I can do or what we can do.
“Raphael is our best friend and is now kind of family now….we can do good business there if we all get together we can have something really good.”
He confirmed that his brother Ajaml was the president of Syncon, adding: “He [Nasr} is our friend, so [of] our friendship there is no doubt, but still you know me or my younger brother Yama, we are not in a business deal with him yet, but our elder brother, he is or he is going to to be the president of his company in Afghanistan.”
Asked about Dawes, Karzai said: “I’ve spoken with him, yeah, I’ve spoken with him I think a couple of times, through Raph by telephone.”
Both Karzai and Nasr were keen to effect a meeting with the reporter in Dubai or Afghanistan to discuss projects further.
Journalists have also obtained a document from Dawes’ associates which show a complex money laundering plan for Dawes’ cash rich drugs business. Plans drawn up for Dawes, who also has a company called the English Laundry in Dubai, recommended using Malta and British Virgin Island based-companies in order to avoid detection.
Court papers relating to the conviction of Dawes’ brother, John, who was jailed for 24 years in 2005 for drug trafficking offences, conservatively estimate that more than £1 million per month was being laundered by the cartel.
Dawes was arrested in Dubai in 2008, apparently relating to a warrant emanating from Spain. Two weeks ago at a Madrid court three Britons and a Columbian, were jailed for between eight and seven half years. Dawes identified by SOCA and the Guardia Civil as the man behind the haul.
However, Spanish police have since been told by Dubai officials that Dawes will not be considered for extradition until his sentence for money laundering offences is completed. They have refused to tell the Spanish authorities how long that will be and Dawes has boasted to associates that he will be free shortly after bribing Dubai officials and paying out £1 million for bail. Dawes is known to have at least four false passports and law enforcement agencies fear he could flee Dubai before facing extradition.
When confronted Nasr admitted he was friends with members of the Karzai family and Robert Dawes but denied he was involved in any criminality.
He said: “I have not done anything criminal. How can I have done anything wrong as I have not been arrested.
“Is it a crime to be friends with certain people. This is a crazy situation. Listen, be very, very careful what you print,” he said.
Jamil Karzai denied when confronted that he knew anyone called Raphael Nasr or Robert Dawes.
He said: “Are you trying to blackmail me? I speak with lots of people lots of the time. I am a political figure so people want to speak with me. I have been to Dubai several times and maybe I get to meet with ex-pats there in restaurants from time to time. I do not know this man. I totally deny knowing these people [Nasr and Dawes],” he said. Robert Dawes was named in Dutch court papers as the man responsible for ordering the murder of innocent schoolteacher Gerard Meesters, shot eight times on his doorstep in Groningen, Holland in November 2002. The shooting was believed to have been carried out in revenge for Meesters’ sister Janette stealing a tonne of cannabis resin from Dawes’ organisation. Daniel Sowerby was jailed for life in 2007 for the shooting and his accomplice Steven Barnes received an eight year sentence. Both refused to testify against Dawes for fear of reprisals against their relatives. Dawes, from Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, has been targeted across Europe by crime fighting agencies and has figured in eight separate national investigations in the UK since 2001 including the most recent Operation Halbert led by SOCA. So far he has evaded capture for the crimes he is wanted for.
A law enforcement source in the UK who has investigated Dawes said: “He is a highly dangerous man who has global connections, uses complex codes in order to communicate with associates and has the ability to corrupt law enforcement officials through access to vast amounts of money made through large scale drug smuggling.It seems more than good fortune that 10 years after he first appeared on the radar in the UK he has yet to face a British court. “
In yet another depressing sign of the times Colin Gunn, a self-styled gangster who epitomises the worst of the UK’s chav generation has won an important victory for prisoners seeking respect from within the walls of the prison establishment.
As the Sunday Times reported at the weekend, Gunn has now won the right to be called by the title he wishes after a battle with the prison authorities at Whitemoor HMP. Gunn revealed his victory in a letter published in this month’s issue of the prison inmates newspaper Inside Times.
I raise this issue because I have written at length about the misery that Gunn and his cohorts brought to the people of Nottingham and beyond. There is nothing wrong with the idea that prisoners should be addressed in a formal manner; a civilised society should not seek to treat inmates as animals if there is any hope of rehabilitating them from the wrong road they have taken. What is wrong here is that Gunn has been afforded some kind of respectful status in the face of some truly brutal crimes for which he is rightly facing a 35-year tariff. I make no mention of other crimes he hasn’t been convicted of which currently lie in the dusty shelves of detectives trays marked “case unsolved”.
Surely until we start treating the victims of crime with the respect that they deserve, the human rights concerns of the likes of Colin Gunn should be pushed to the back of the queue. Colin Gunn is clearly revelling in this latest burst of publicity because he thinks he has got one over on the system that he is constantly seeking to pervert. His idea of a just world is one where might is right and the mob rules and where he is considered as a role model for others…that seems to me a recipe for the end of civilised society.
Today’s news that Coroner and QC Karon Monaghan has called for a review of the the UK’s witness protection services has been a long time coming and is long overdue. If nothing else, Hoods , illustrated just what happens when there is no continuity or depth in the witness protection framework to deal with the real threats that organised crime poses to those ordinary people who speak out against its pernicious reach. It is a tragedy of appalling proportions that it has taken the brutal deaths of two pensioners to reach this stage but as is so often the case, it takes something of that nature to shake us out of the complacency that had been allowed to build up over this area of policing. Joan and John Stirland really did deserve better treatment and there will be individuals and corporate entitities who will never be able to wash the blood from their hands over the Stirlands deaths. There is no doubt in my mind that consideration must be given to a national body set up to deal with witness protection which is independent of local police forces and this should be a fully funded body which can deal with the huge expense and strain on resources which witness protection inevitably creates. As matters currently stand there are people who would be willing to turn their lives upside down and give evidence against major criminals if they had faith in the system. There is very little faith in the current system and the deaths of the Stirlands has magnified that lack of faith. Nobody wants to see the spectre of criminal trials collapsing against the some of the most dangerous villains simply because witnesses do not feel safe but that has become an increasingly common situation in the UK. It will be interesting to see the responses of ACPO and local police forces to this issue, but the Ministry of Justice and the Crown Prosecution also need to have an input into this debate. We saw on the streets of Nottingham how urban terrorism, threats and fear have taken their toll on some of the city’s population and unless we have the systems in place to reassure those who need our protection, it will be a story coming to a city near you soon.
Earlier this week the Met’s chief Sir Paul Stephenson indicated that dealing with organised crime was the biggest challenge that would face the UK’s law enforcement agencies in the coming years . He rightly raised concerns about how, in the current economic climate, police forces and the criminal justice system – faced with making huge budget cuts – would be able to meet the challenges of organised crime. The public could be forgiven for thinking that the agency specifically charged with combating the problem the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) , now in its fifth year, is on top of the problem. In fact SOCA is only dealing with the top tier of criminals and most of the middle and lower tier criminal gangs which are operating now out of Britain’s housing and industrial estates fall under the radar of SOCA. As a result these gangs are being left to grow perniciously because the specialist units which local police forces have to deal with them are few and far between. More than that these specialist units are the very ones that may be at risk when the current round of budget cuts being considered by all police authorities come into play. In Nottinghamshire it was this very scenario – the dismantling of its major crime unit and drugs squad, in 2000/2001 – which contributed to the rise in power of gangsters such as Colin Gunn from the city’s Bestwood estate. In today’s Telegraph there is a further warning about how organised crime is being imported imported and yet this is a problem that has been festering for some years; staring the politicians in the face. Perhaps a way forward would be for police forces which share geographical county borders to pool their resources into regional specialist units to tackle organised crime such as the East Midlands Special Operations Unit which uses the resources of five police forces to tackle organised crime and middle tier drugs dealers. Ultimately it will be for the politicians to decide where the axe falls on the ever thinning blue line, but if Sir Paul Stephenson is correct the UK could be in for a rocky ride ahead with the economic conditions giving rise to more wannabe Tony Sopranos than it can handle.