PROSECUTORS in the Netherlands have re-opened the investigation into the murder of schoolteacher Gerard Meesters following a case review.
The move follows a formal complaint made last year by the family of Mr Meesters who was gunned down on his doorstep in Groningen in November 2002.
Prosecutors believe they have new evidence which connects the murder to British crime lord Robert Dawes, currently awaiting trial in Paris over a seizure of 1.3 tonnes of cocaine in September 2013.
Interviews with significant witnesses including Gerard Meesters’ son Koen will begin next week. Prosecutors are also likely to seek an interview with Daniel Sowerby who is currently serving a life sentence for carrying out the shooting.
During his court case in which fellow Brit Steven Barnes was also prosecuted as the getaway driver, Sowerby denied being the shooter but has since admitted he was a trusted employee of Robert Dawes at the time of the murder and had carried out various tasks on behalf of Dawes’ organised crime group including visiting Gerard Meesters in the days before the murder.
The organised crime group led by Dawes had lost a significant load of drugs which they believed had been stolen by Gerard’s sister Janette and a friend Madeleine Brussen. Sowerby was sent to the home of Mr Meesters, who had no involvement in crime, to demand the teacher contacted the gangsters to let them know where his sister was.
Sowerby was accompanied by notorious Dutch gangster Gwenette Martha, and a number of other men and gave Mr Meesters a Spanish mobile number to call with information about his sister.
When Mr Meesters failed to tell the gang her whereabouts a shooter was dispatched a few days later to brutally murder Mr Meesters on his doorstep.
Gwenette Martha was shot dead in May 2014 as part of a violent power struggle between Dutch Moroccan groups wrestling for control over lucrative cocaine transport lines. Martha had been a close associate of Dawes from 2001 and the two had been doing business right up until his death.
It is expected that prosecutors from the Netherlands will seek to formally interview Dawes at some point in the re-investigation process.
IT BEGAN 15 years ago on November 24, 2002, at about 5.30pm when a group of five men gathered in the darkness at the front door of the dimly lit suburban home of a Dutch school teacher.
Four of the men waiting were Dutch nationals. The fifth man who stood at the front of the house on Uranusstraat, Groningen and rang the doorbell was a British national. In his hand, the British man held a strip of thin card torn from a packet of cigarette rolling papers on which was inscribed a Spanish mobile telephone number.
Gerard Meesters, a 52-year-old benign school teacher was at home with his 21-year-old son Koen when the doorbell rang. The Englishman asked: “Are you Mr Meesters, related to Janette?” He then began to explain that he had a message for Janette Meesters, Gerard’s sister. “It is very important you tell her to call this number,” the Englishman told him.
There was then some confusion as Gerard did not understand the man’s English very well. One of the Dutchmen impatiently pushed to the front to make the message clearer by explaining further in Dutch. “If you do not get her to call the number we will come back and it will not be to talk,” the man explained in Dutch. Gerard was shocked. His son Koen would later testify that he had never seen his father so frightened.
The group of men at the door then dissipated and walked around the corner to two waiting vehicles, one of which contained a sixth man, who was also British. The Dutchmen all got into one car and the British man joined his English colleague in a dark coloured Renault Kangoo. Police would later learn the British man who had gone to the door was a recently escaped prisoner called Daniel Sowerby and his driver was a Nottinghamshire man called Steven Barnes. Police would later learn that the two men took their orders directly from Robert Dawes, a British crime lord who was quickly building a violent criminal smuggling empire from his base on Spain’s Costa Del Sol. He was already being investigated by a large scale operation run by Nottinghamshire Police and backed by the National Crime Squad.
The car containing the Dutchmen included infamous gangster Gwenette Martha and his sidekick Etous Belsarang, head of the Amsterdam chapter of a biker group called Satudarah. Both were well known to police and to Robert Dawes, with whom they had done business. In fact Dawes continued to do business with Gwenette Martha right up until the Dutchman’s liquidation in 2014.
Four days after his scare on the doorstep, on November 28 2002, Gerard, who had left the house to stay with his son and daughter nearby, popped back to the house. He had alerted police to the threat a few days earlier and they did not know what to make of it. All Gerard knew was that his sister was in trouble in Spain but they had not spoken for several months. Just after 7pm Gerard logged into his computer. Then the doorbell went. As he opened the door a gunman rapidly fired eight shots from a handgun. Seven hit their mark. Gerard Meesters slumped in the hallway of his home. He was dead within a few minutes. Witnesses reported hearing popping sounds and seeing a black vehicle with its headlights extinguished moving off at speed nearby.
Later Daniel Sowerby would be convicted of the murder based largely on the testimony of his driver Steven Barnes. Sowerby received a life sentence and Barnes, who is now a free man in the UK, was sentenced to eight years by Dutch judges. Sowerby has consistently denied being the shooter but admitted his role in other parts of the story. The narrative everyone is agreed on is that Gerard, who was never involved in anything criminal, was shot dead because of the exploits of his wayward sister Janette and her friend, Madeleine Brussen. They became known as “Thelma and Louise” on Dutch phone taps which recorded Dawes’ associates talking about the shooting in the months afterwards and why Janette and her friend had gone on the run. It appears the gang believed that Janette and her friend had stolen part of a large consignment of cannabis, which Dawes had part ownership of. Gerard’s fate was sealed when he could not make contact with Janette and a decision was taken to end the talking and send a blood-soaked message.
For the past 15 years Koen and Annemarie Meesters have been unable to get closure on their father’s brutal murder because although the court recognised that Sowerby and Barnes were following orders given to them by the head of an organised crime group, the Dutch prosecutors felt there was not enough evidence to charge the leader of the group and the man they named in court and suspected of giving those orders; Robert Dawes.
Now, on the anniversary of Gerard Meesters’ death, his children have taken the extraordinary step of filing an official complaint naming Robert Dawes as the man who gave the orders and demanding that Dutch prosecutors look at the case again. Their hand is strengthened by a number of factors. Firstly they are being supported in their efforts by former and current Dutch police officers who handled their father’s case. There is also support from former officials in the Dutch prosecutor’s office, who believe collectively there are now enough details to put together a case against Robert Dawes. Thirdly the power which was once wielded by Dawes has diminished since he was arrested in November 2015 over a 1.3 tonnes load of cocaine shipped into Paris airport in September 2013.
Dawes will stand trial for that offence next year along with two footsoldiers and three members of the Camorra mafia. His incarceration has meant that the silence he could once demand from his footsoldiers and lieutenants is no longer guaranteed. It has meant that over time a clearer picture has emerged of the planning of Gerard Meesters’ murder and other crimes committed by the organised crime group led by Robert Dawes.
In the Dutch newspapers today Koen,36 and Annemarie,34, who I have been in regular contact with over the past four years, have spoken out about their frustration over the case and their hopes that the filing of the complaint will give the authorities no option but to review the case again in relation to Robert Dawes.
Koen told me: “More details have emerged over time and I believe there is a case when all the parts of the jigsaw are put together.
“If it turns out there is actually too little evidence and he is acquitted, we will have to accept this. Doing nothing is not an option for us. We can not live with that. ”
Roelf Wessels, the now-retired police officer who led the investigation into Gerard’s murder has also spoken out.
He said: “There was more than a reasonable suspicion of Robert Dawes involvement at the time. Dawes should have been arrested, but to date, the Public Prosecutor has never given permission. We have arrested suspects for less. ”
Koen and Annemarie Meesters also revealed that they have had contact with the man convicted of carrying out the shooting of their father – Daniel Sowerby – visiting him in prison to try to prise information from him about how he received his orders directly from Robert Dawes. Sowerby has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and may only have a short time to live.
ONE of the UK’s most powerful narco-traffickers will finally face the courtroom next year following his arrest in Spain almost two years ago.
Nottingham born Robert Dawes, 45, is charged with organising a 1.3 tonnes shipment of cocaine from Venezuela and seized in suitcases from a flight which touched down at Charles de Gaulle airport Roissy, Paris in September 2013, according to French prosecutors.
More details have also emerged about the case against the British crime lord from the French prosecutor’s indictment, including Dawes’ links to two British men arrested in Paris and to a wing of the Italian Camorra mafia.
According to French investigators, the operation against Dawes began on 8 July 2013 when information was received that a large consignment of cocaine was going to be sent from Venezuela to France via a passenger flight. The information stated that a British organised crime group was behind the shipment.
More information came through to French investigators enabling them to tag Roissy airport about 20 miles from the centre of Paris as the destination point. On September 11 the shipment arrived in 31 suitcases belonging to “ghost” passengers. Having intercepted the shipment by stealth, French investigators then placed undercover officers via an informant into the baggage handling facility at Charles-de-Gaulle airport.
On September 16 2013 the undercover baggage handler’s phone rang. The voice was a man speaking in English calling himself “Marcus”. A meeting was arranged for that evening in Paris. Location? Under the Eiffel Tower. “Marcus”, the evidence will say turned out to be a 34-year-old Nottinghamshire born man called Nathan Wheat.
Nathan Wheat born in Mansfield in 1983 was a known associate of Robert Dawes who, like his boss, lived on Spain’s Mijas Costa. Records showed he had also visited Venezuela in April 2013. Investigators believe this would have been to oversee the logistics of the Caracas to Paris transport operation on behalf of Robert Dawes. Several Venezuelan police officers with alleged links to the Venezuelan outfit Cartel de Los Soles and a Caracas airport remit would later be arrested. At the Eiffel Tower meet, “Marcus” handed a Dutch-sourced Blackberry encrypted with PGP technology to the undercover baggage handler “Sergio” and told him this was to be the only form of communication to be used from there on. Similar Dutch-sourced Blackberry mobiles with PGP encryption would later be discovered when Guardia Civil raided Robert Dawes palatial villa
in Benalmadena in November 2015. In court cases already dealt with, associates of Dawes were found to be in control of a mobile phone business registered at Companies House in the UK, selling encrypted sim cards with Blackberry phones at €2,000 a piece with branches all over the world. There was little legitimate business done by the mobile phone company. In reality, it was a cover for an encrypted network of communications designed to thwart all eavesdropping attempts by law enforcement agencies. One company director was jailed for 10 years in Portugal after being caught with a 167 kilo shipment of cocaine linked to Dawes. Another director, overseeing a cocaine shipment that went missing, was shot dead in Antwerp in 2012 leading to a wild west of tit for tat shootings in Netherlands and abroad which claimed upwards of 15 lives. Some of the victims were mistaken innocents and others were simply girlfriends or relatives of targets.
Oblivious the load had already been intercepted, Wheat then organised a meeting with “Sergio” at the Cafe Kleber in Paris. There Wheat gave the undercover baggage handler further instructions about where the shipment would be moved to and how it was to be split into four consignments. One split was just over 300 kilos which would go to representatives of the Camorra mafia gang from Naples. The Camorra shipment was allowed to travel out of the airport in a truck driven by an Italian before being stopped at the German border apparently on its way via Germany to a rendezvous in a Camorra held part of Italy. Two members of the Amato-Pagano clan linked to the Camorra, Vincenzo Aprea and Carmine Russo, both 49 years old, who had been dealing with Nathan Wheat were arrested and have been charged along with the lorry driver. Aprea is believed to be the Camorra clan’s representative in Spain.
The French authorities moved in on Nathan Wheat and his 30-year-old Nottingham colleague Kane Price. They were arrested while out shopping on the Champs Elysees. Price, who gave his occupation as a used car salesman, was bailed through lack of evidence, but after returning to the UK was then arrested handling a large amount of MDMA on behalf of a cell working for Robert Dawes. He was sentenced to three and half years following a court case at Stafford Crown Court in 2016. Wheat remains in custody in France.
Meanwhile, the Guardia Civil upped its monitoring of Dawes. Unable to break the encryption communications he was employing they resorted to tried and tested tactics used pursuing ETA terrorists. Surveillance of Dawes and his associates led investigators to a meeting at the five star Villa Magna hotel in Madrid on September 23, 2014. The meeting was between Dawes, a Columbian from the Medellin cartel and a Spanish/English interpreter. The Guardia Civil legally wired into the hotel’s CCTV and audio system to pick up the conversation and film the meeting. During the chat, Dawes revealed he could get narcotics shipments through most ports and airports in Europe through corrupt contacts. He mentioned contacts in ports such as Algeciras and Valencia in Spain, using ships from Venezuela and from Santos, Brazil, cargo planes in the Netherlands, ships from Morocco to Spain, containers in Antwerp, and shipments by commercial plane in suitcases through airports such as Brussels. Only the airport at Barajas, Madrid was impenetrable, he told the Columbians. His price was 30 per cent commission on the value of anything that went through the transport lines he controlled air, sea or land. Those networks would inevitably reveal a layer of corrupt officials within the import/export chain and law enforcement, whose loyalty Dawes had bought.
On tape Dawes was also caught boasting about the 1.3 tonnes of cocaine Paris shipment “the one that was in the news using the cases…that was mine”, he said. He appeared to be trying to convince the Medellin drug boss of his credentials. He was also caught telling the Columbian that the only way he would communicate with the Columbians would be via a Blackberry PGP encrypted mobile which he would supply to whoever he dealt with.
Dawes’ legal team, led by the so called “Jihadist’s Lawyer” Xavier Nogueras, are desperately trying to prevent this evidence from being included in the French court case, claiming that the material was illegally obtained. Dawes’ legal team is also interested in the use of informants in the case and in particular a reference in the case file to an infamous French drug smuggler Sofiane Hambli.
After the raid on Dawes’ Benalmadena villa on November 12 2015, the scale of his dealings has also become clearer. Documentation seized by Spain’s Guardia Civil investigators shows that the Briton had banking and telephone contacts spanning five continents in more than 50 countries including significant contacts in Afghanistan, UK, Malta, Syria, Italy, France, Netherlands, Nigeria, Finland, Somalia, Colombia, Pakistan, Russia, Australia, New Zealand and China.
Via his legal team, Dawes – currently being held at Fresnes prison near Paris – is expected to continue to attempt to water down the evidence which mounts against him and use delaying tactics in his case.
A “KEY member” of a drugs Cartel headed by British crime lord Robert Dawes has been arrested following a joint operation between Dutch and Spanish investigators.
Emiel Brummer, a 42-year-old Dutchman was held following a raid on a “safe house” used by the Cartel in Torremolinos on Spain’s Costa del Sol. The raid took place in recent weeks, but news of the operation codenamed “Misty” has only just emerged.
Brummer occupied a senior position within the Cartel, according to investigators who believe he was carrying on the crime group’s business at the highest levels following the vacuum left by the arrest of its head, Robert Dawes. Dawes’ luxury villa in Benalmadena was raided last November as part of Operation Halbert IV. Dawes is currently awaiting trial in Paris over a 1.3 tonne haul of cocaine seized on a flight from Venezuela to Paris in September 2013. Dawes is being held in a high-security prison pending the case being heard later this year.
Dutchman Brummer, who investigators tailed during frequent trips between Netherlands and Spain, was spotted meeting with Mexican cocaine cartel agents.
Brummer is believed to have been linked to the organised crime group which was led by Gwenette Martha who was assassinated in Amsterdam in May 2014. Investigators have also found significant links between the Cartel and the biker gang Satudarah or “One Blood” as it translates. The bikers have been used for transport links and security on consignments of drugs smuggled into Netherlands.
The operation against Brummer began in earnest after he was detected visiting Dawes in person before the British man’s arrest last November. The visits coincided investigators believe, with Brummer receiving instructions about shipments of cocaine being moved through Rotterdam and Antwerp ports.
As part of the Operation Misty Dutch and Spanish investigators searched 15 properties in Netherlands and Spain and made other arrests. Around six kilos of cocaine €500,000 in cash, diamonds, a number of firearms and hi-spec vehicles were seized. Several bank accounts in different countries were frozen and properties seized. Significantly they also seized highly-encrypted mobile phones used by Brummer.
Investigators in Netherlands are also keen to speak to Brummer about the role played by the organised crime group he has been linked to; specifically in a wave of recent liquidations involving the use of AK-47’s in Netherlands.
CRIME boss Robert Dawes has been formally charged by the French authorities after they seized more than 1.3 tonnes of cocaine at Paris airport.
The cocaine was seized from a flight from Caracas, Venezuela which arrived at Paris’ Charles De Gaulle airport in September 2013. It is the largest seizure ever made in France.
Dawes, 43, was flown from Madrid to Paris where was formally charged by investigating magistrate Anne Bamberger last week and remanded into custody pending a trial. It is understood the French have been investigating Dawes using sophisticated phone taps for at least the past 12 months after intelligence indicated he was behind the huge haul. Britain National Crime Agency and Spain’s Guardia Civil have been assisting the French in their investigation.
Several key lieutenants of his organisation from the Mijas Costa in Spain, were arrested at the time the haul was seized in September 2013 and have remained in custody since. Dawes was arrested at his family’s villa in Benalmadena, Spain last month. He has a string of front companies in the UK, Spain, Dubai and Malta which have provided safe docking for money-laundering over the last 13 years.
Dawes arrest was captured on film by a swat team of Guardia Civil officers who arrested the British man at his Benalmadena villa. Officers raiding his property discovered a number of firearms, hundreds of new sim cards for mobile phones and a state-of-the-art command and control centre where he operated from.
French Interior Minister Manuel Valls, took a personal interest in the case when the bust was made revealing that some of the cocaine had been stored in at least 30 suitcases which had been tagged with the names of “ghost” passengers. This had been destined for Netherlands and the UK.
Investigators also seized another part of the load, around 400 kilos, from a lorry at the Luxembourg border which they believe was destined for the Italian mafia. Three Italians, and two British men connected to Dawes, were arrested at the time along with a number of National Guard officials in Venezuela who are believed to have helped the drug gang get the cargo past checks at Caracas airport.
The French-led investigation has been supported by investigators from Spain’s Guardia Civil and the UK’s National Crime Agency.
As I have reported previously , Dutch, Spanish and British investigators are taking a keen interest as the process in France unfolds, as all still have the name of the British crime lord firmly on their list of cases unresolved. The merry-go-round has now started in earnest.
ORGANISED crime boss Robert Dawes has been arrested again following a warrant issued by the French authorities.
This week officers from the elite organised crime unit of Guardia Civil based in Madrid arrested the 43-year-old Nottinghamshire man and searched his villa in Benalmadena, Mijas Costa.
It is unclear yet what the specific charges relate to and what other arrests have been made, but the request has come from a court in France which is believed to be investigating a large-scale drugs shipment which came through its borders.
The operation involved the co-operation of the National Crime Agency in the UK and their French counterparts OCRTIS.
A spokesman for the National Crime Agency said: “Robert Dawes was arrested in connection with international drug trafficking as part of a joint investigation between the French OCRTIS, the NCA and the Guardia Civil.”
I have previously written at length about the bureaucratic bungles and corruption issues which have resulted in Dawes thwarting the authorities efforts to make charges stick against this “Teflon Don“.
Indeed a Spanish investigation into a 200 kilo shipment of cocaine linked to Dawes, fell apart after vital evidence including mobile phone sim cards and computer data seized in Dubai, which should have been presented to the Spanish judge Jose Santiago Torres, was handed back to Dawes’ wife via Spanish police officers. That loss of evidence, mistaken or consciously planned, alongside a lengthy delay from the British authorities to submit their own evidence, has been blamed for Dawes release from custody four years ago. The combination effectively ended the case against him in 2012. Dawes – who has ready access to a number of false passports – is known to have the ability and funds to corrupt police officers and key components of the justice system, according to those who have investigated him in law enforcement.
Now three years on the Daily Mail reports that Dawes is once again in custody in Madrid this time to await an extradition hearing which could take him to a cell in France. However the case will be watched closely by the authorities in Netherlands and the UK. Dawes was named as the man who ordered the murder of innocent Dutch school teacher Gerard Meesters in November 2002. At the time of the court case, which saw the cartel’s footsoldier Daniel Sowerby jailed for life, the Dutch authorities lacked a final piece of evidence to charge Dawes with ordering the murder. In the UK, aside from the overwhelming prima facie evidence linking him to shipments of class A drugs here, British authorities still regard Dawes as a “person of interest” linked to the October 2002 assassination of Nottinghamshire businessman David Draycott.
We shall, of course, follow the merry-go-round of developments with great interest.
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
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 currently at large on the Mijas Costa in Spain
Eurojust’s Andrew Crookes (Right) with Aled Williams current President
Last week I wrote in The Guardian about the cock-up over a request from the Spanish authorities which led to organised crime boss Robert Dawes being freed from custody.
Dawes track record has been catalogued here and in the publication Hoods. He has been on the radar of British law enforcement officials for 13 years. Indeed he has been described recently by officers from Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) as “a highly significant international criminal” who is “wanted for murder in Holland and drug trafficking in the UK”. Their own words not mine.
How did it come to pass that a man in such demand by law enforcement agencies was allowed to go free because an urgent request for assistance from a Spanish judge to SOCA somehow got lost in the post for FIVE months.
SOCA officials have been pointing the finger at Eurojust saying the document must have been “lost in the Eurozone”. The letter rogatory, the formal request made by one country to another, was sent by the Spanish judge on April 19 2011 but did not arrive with SOCA, say its officials, until the end of August 2011. Dawes was released on September 12 because the judge had not received any response from the British.
It appears the letter was sent via Eurojust. A powerful body set up in 2002, based in the Hague. Its remit is to speed up co-operation between EU countries on international organised crime cases. Eurojust has around 500 administrative staff but its power lies in the delegations from each European country of which there is a head and deputy head.
It appears that the document was sent by the judge Jose Santiago Torres Prieto to the deputy head of the Spanish delegation Maria Teresa Galvez Diez and from there it would have been forwarded on to the British authorities via the British delegation. It would have been no more than a a day’s work at Eurojust’s headquarters to send the request to the UK.
Often mistakes happen because officials do not realise the importance of a document or request but when one looks at the CVs of the British delegation at Eurojust one must wonder how things could have gone so catastrophically wrong, if indeed the fault lies with Eurojust.
The UK’s delegation head is also the current president of Eurojust. His name is Aled Williams and to quote his own biography from Eurojust his “legal career started in 1984 when he was admitted as a solicitor and then worked as a prosecutor with responsibility for serious cases of homicide, fraud and drug trafficking. In 2002 he was appointed the United Kingdom liaison magistrate to Spain. He worked in the Ministry of Justice in Madrid for four years, dealing with mutual legal assistance, extradition and the introduction of European Arrest Warrant procedures.
The background of his deputy Andrew Crookes is even more interesting. To quote Eurojust he was “admitted as a Solicitor in 1989, he is a Higher Court Advocate and has 20 years’ prosecution experience. He worked as Trial Unit Head in Nottinghamshire prior to joining the Crown Prosecution Service Headquarters Central Casework Divisions in 2004. He was Head of Special Crime Division, York, and in 2006 was appointed Head of the Organised Crime Division in Birmingham. There he was responsible for a team of lawyers dealing with prosecutions arising from investigations by the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, including money laundering, drug trafficking and human trafficking. Prior to joining Eurojust, he was appointed as a Senior Specialist Lawyer to deal nationally with the most complex, serious and sensitive cases arising from the activities of international organised crime groups.
When one considers Robert Dawes background from Nottinghamshire, his background in organised crime, money laundering and drug trafficking in Spain and other countries his links to at least two brutal murders; it is difficult to believe you could find two lawyers who would fit the bill better than these two members of British delegation or indeed more eminent in their field.
So what went wrong? Eurojust are currently looking into the matter and so we will have to see what explanation they deliver. Lets just hope it won’t take another five months to find out. In the meantime surely it is important to ensure that Robert Dawes is finally put before the courts and face the evidence that exists against him whether that be in Spain, Holland or the UK.
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.