The bloody cocaine trail running through the Amsterdam Killing Fields

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.

stefan-eggermont

Stefan Eggermont: Just one of a number of innocents caught up in the bloody feud

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.”

Stefan Eggermont crime scene

Stefan Eggermont crime scene

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

Najeeb Bouhbouh

Najeeb Bouhbouh

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.

Said and youseff

Said El Yazidi (left) and Youseff Lkhorf (right)

March 16 2013: Rida Bennajem, 21, shot dead Amsterdam. Believed to be one of the hitmen involved in murder of Bouhbouh

Rida Bennajim

Rida Bennajim

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

Gwenette Martha

Gwenette Martha

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.

Derki Van De Meijden

Derkiaoui Van Der Meijden

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.

Luana Luz Xavier

Luana Luz Xavier

Reports: Dutch-Moroccan associate of Robert Dawes gunned down

DUTCH media were last night reporting the brutal death of yet another former associate of Robert Dawes.

All in One bar near Benahavis where "Scarface" was shot dead

All in One bar near Benahavis where “Scarface” was shot dead

The victim, who has yet to be formally identified, is believed to be Samir Bouyakhrichan, 36, known by the nickname “Scarface” within the Dutch underworld. He was gunned down around 1.50am yesterday (Thursday) by two assailants at the All in One bar in Monte Halcones, Benahavis in the mountains just four miles inland from the Marbella coastline.

Bouyakhrichan, who had real estate interests in the area through Albina Properties 2009 Sl, was apparently sat with a group of six associates when the two gunmen approached. As he attempted to flee his table the men opened fire. He was hit several times in the back before being shot in the head as he lay on the ground, according to eye witnesses.

“Scarface” was known to be a highly significant player in the Dutch-Moroccan mafia and had previously been arrested over the tragic shooting of 12-year-old Danny Gubbels in 2010 in Breda, Netherlands. Two other men, originally from Leeds, and another from Amsterdam, eventually stood trial for the killing. Leeds born 28-year-old, Tyrone Lando Gillard, is currently serving 16 years after being convicted of manslaughter alongside Dutchman Marcellino Fraser. Dutch investigators were unable to amass enough evidence to identify the five other gunmen or the men who ordered the shooting.

Samir Bouyakhrichan was, according to sources, involved in the Dutch cocaine and hashish trade at the highest level but also had business connections in Morocco, Spain and United Arab Emirates, according to sources. The motive for the murder remains unclear, yet clearly well-planned.

Just three days before the murder of Bouyakhrichan, Spanish police had also arrested and detained two men in the vicinity of the Benhavis crime scene, carrying firearms and silencers. It is not known if they were linked to an earlier plan to execute the Dutch-Moroccan national. A 63-year-old Spaniard and 32-year-old Lithuanian, who have extensive criminal records, remain in custody. Guardia Civil investigators have begun a nationwide hunt for the two gunmen who assassinated Scarface.

Investigators in Netherlands will be taking a keen interest in the Spanish murder investigation following a series of recent assassinations in Amsterdam including the death of notorious gangster, Gwenette Martha, in the city in May this year.

At least 13 murders and several failed attempted assassinations have now been linked to large shipments of cocaine being stolen by rival gangs and also intercepted by the authorities in the port of Antwerp. A brutal gang war between two rival Dutch based gangs has been waged over the thefts over the past two years resulting in a river of blood flowing through the Netherlands and beyond.

Martha had been involved with British gangster Robert Dawes as far back as 2002 when he was sent to deliver a phone number to Dutch school teacher Gerard Meesters demanding that he phone the number and tell the gangsters the whereabouts of his sister Janette, who the villains believed had stolen a huge load of hashish. Mr Meesters was shot dead at his home in Groningen four days later sparking a Dutch police investigation which led to Daniel Sowerby,a Dawes Cartel foot soldier, being jailed for life for the shooting.

Bouyakhrichan has previously been linked to the Dawes Cartel over a large cargo of cocaine which was stolen from Antwerp in 2010 leading to the tragic shooting of Danny Gubbels, some of whose family members were believed to be behind the theft. Two of the seven gunmen convicted, including Tyrone Gillard, 26 at the time and originally from Leeds, were sentenced to 16 years in prison.

“Scarface” had also been linked to £300 million worth of cocaine bound for Netherlands but seized in Southampton aboard the 65ft luxury cruiser Louise in June 2011, discovered after a tip off to the French authorities who informed the British authorities. It is the largest seizure of cocaine in the UK to date.

Around two years ago Bouyakhrichan reportedly moved himself and his young family to the safety of Dubai fearing the Netherlands had become a dangerous place for him to be, although he regularly travelled to Spain. There he invested in property and companies involved oil and fuel trade. In recent times his star had waned, according to sources, not least with fellow investors.

Some observers believe Scarface had made a number of enemies after a series of cocaine shipments, believed to be up to 12,000 kilos, failed to materialise or were intercepted by the authorities. One investment, which led to corrupt  Belgian customs officer Tim Deelen being jailed for 14 years, was seized by authorities in 2012 in Anwterp weighed in at 8.5 tonnes of cocaine packed into bananas from Ecuador.

 

Dutch school teacher’s killer speaks for the first time about his work for the Dawes Cartel

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.

Daniel Sowerby sketched as he is now by Petra Urban

Daniel Sowerby sketched as he is now by artist Petra Urban.

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

Dutch crime lord linked to Dawes cartel gunned down in Amsterdam

A MAJOR figure in the Dutch underworld was gunned down last night in a surburb of Amsterdam.

Gwenette Martha, 40, died in a hail of bullets after three gunmen dressed in balaclavas unleashed a volley of automatic fire as the Dutch crime lord was walking in the Amstelveen district of Amsterdam in the mid-evening. The gunmen may have sped off in a BMW which was later found burnt out, according to some reports. Martha was pronounced dead at the scene, punctured by at least 80 bullet wounds, according to reports in the Dutch media http://bit.ly/1kpsf7x . The assassins were believed to have used AK-47 automatic rifles in the attack.

Gwenette Martha dead at 40

Gwenette Martha dead at 40

The scene of Martha's execution

The scene of Martha’s execution

Martha, had been linked to the Dawes cartel, headed by British criminal Robert Dawes, as far back as 2002. Martha was one of five men who visited the home of 52-year-old Gerard Meesters in November 2002 to threaten the school teacher to tell them the whereabouts of his sister Janette Meesters. The Dawes Cartel believed that Janette and a friend had stolen a large quantity of drugs belonging to Robert Dawes. A few days after the encounter with Martha, Mr Meesters, a complete innocent who had not been in contact with his sister for years, was shot dead in the hallway of his home in Groningen, Netherlands. Dawes Cartel member, Daniel Sowerby, was jailed for life for the murder and Martha received a prison sentence for supplying heroin to Sowerby and for threats against Mr Meesters in the days before the murder.For the past year the lucrative cocaine and heroin trade has been been at the fulcrum of an Amsterdam gang power battle; it has culminated in a series of fatal tit for tat shootings involving two major groups of criminals. One group was headed by Martha supported by a biker gang. Martha had been suspected of ordering the murder of two rivals in 2012 linked to a shadowy Moroccan mafia group. A series of thefts of large shipments of cocaine are believed to have increased tensions between the two groups. In December last year Martha himself survived an assassination attempt when a gunman jumped out at him but the assailant’s weapon jammed.

Martha himself had only recently been released by police after being arrested in April over the possession of two firearms. Observers and law enforcement in Netherlands fear the death of Martha may now provoke an escalation in the war which could see the recent bloody drug war in the country reach unprecedented levels of violence.

Video showing the aftermath of Gwenette Martha’s death.

The Premier League Football Club owners and a £1 million loan to a crime lord

 

West Ham United co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan give the Hammer salute flanked to the right by crime boss David Hunt

West Ham United co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan give the Hammers salute flanked to the right by crime boss David Hunt

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.”

The mystery of the 19-year-old unsolved murder of city taxi driver

ETHSHAM “Shami” Ghafoor was a popular, outgoing man who made friends easily and was well respected within the cabbie fraternity.

What is also clear is that the young Asian taxi driver was troubled by something that he kept from his family, a secret which perhaps holds the key to why he was executed in a cold, clinical and brutal fashion in the early hours of a cold dark November morning in a lonely car park 19 years ago.

His work as a driver often took him on relatively arduous journeys, a long way from the taxi pitch outside Nottingham’s Victoria Shopping Centre. A round trip to Manchester, a job down in London, an airport pick up now and again. These were all journeys he took in his stride. Despite the long hours he worked, nothing seemed to get Shami down.

Ethsham Ghafoor brutally murdered aged 26

Ethsham Ghafoor brutally murdered aged 26

But as the autumnal evenings drew in towards the middle of November 1994 in his hometown of Nottingham, something was clearly playing on his mind. His family and his closest friends noticed his bright and breezy demeanor had been replaced by a troubled soul at times. Shami brushed off their concerns, he wasn’t the sort of man to burden others with his own problems.

 

Little is known about Shami’s movements on November 21 and 22 1994. He was spotted at a petrol station at the junction of Mapperley Plains and Wooodthorpe Drive, just after midnight. Then, at about 4.30 am, a milkman doing his early rounds on November 22 spotted Shami black and white Ford Sierra car in a desolate car park near playing fields off Lambley Lane.

The scene of Shami's execution sometime between 1am and 4am on November 22 1994

The scene of Shami’s execution sometime between 1am and 4am on November 22 1994

As the milkman drew closer he could see that there was a man in the car, who at first seemed asleep. The full horror of his discovery became apparent as he got to the car, 26-year-old Shami had been shot dead. He had two gunshot wounds from what police were later able to ascertain was a semi-automatic handgun. The murder weapon has never been recovered.

Former Detective Superintendent Chris Barnfather of Nottinghamshire Police said during a re-investigation of the murder in 2004: “It bore all the hallmarks of an execution. Mr Ghafoor had been shot once to the side, to incapacitate him, and then between the eyes. I do not believe robbery was a motive.”

Shami had a somewhat unconventional domestic life. He was married with a child on the way, but he also had a lover with whom he had another child. While this may have been unorthodox, Shami was not leading a double life, on the domestic front at least. Both partners were aware of the other as were Shami’s family and it was not a source of conflict for either. Yet somehow, in the absence of hard evidence, it lead police down a path which resulted in Shami’s lover being wrongly suspected of hiring a hitman to murder Shami. The pursuit of this motive without any hard evidence led to the Crown Prosecution Service rightly dropping the charges against her in October 1995.

Since then there have been no arrests in connection with Shami’s death and as the years have passed the trail appeared to have gone cold. One of the keys to unlocking the mystery may well lie in those long journeys Shami undertook in his black and white Ford Sierra car outside Nottinghamshire, other significant clues may lie in Shami’s movements in the weeks leading up to the murder and the crucial missing three hours when Shami was last seen at the petrol station to the discovery of his body.

Now a fresh pairs of eyes from Nottinghamshire Police are being trained on the mystery of Ethsham “Shami” Ghafoor’s shocking death. In tandem with the cold case review of the murder, Shami’s family have launched a Facebook page on the 19th anniversary of Shami’s deathin the hope that they can jog the memories of people.

Detective Chief Inspector Tony Heydon, who is leading the cold case review, said: “Shami was part of a very close-knit family, and his death has left each and every one of them devastated over the years. We are working closely with the family and supporting their public appeal which is using social media.

“Since 1994, the ways people provide information or communicate has changed significantly, and it may be that there are people out there who know who is responsible for Shami’s murder but have never come forward before. Now is the time to put Shami’s family first and help them find closure. Their Facebook group shows just how desperate for justice they are, and if you know anything you could help them.”

The Facebook page focusing of Shami’s murder and the impact his death has had on his family can be found at http://www.facebook.com/justiceforEthshamShamiGhafoor.

Just as people will remember where they were when they heard John F Kennedy was shot dead on November 22 1963 in Dallas, there are people who will never forget where they were when they heard that Ethsham “Shami” Ghafoor had been shot dead on November 22 1994 in Nottingham.

Shami’s family are appealing for people to visit their Facebook page and for anyone with any information to contact the incident room on 0115 844 6912 or ring Crimestoppers, in confidence, on 0800 555 111.

 

Robert Dawes “the victim” ….I don’t think so and nor do our law enforcement officials

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 Jose Santiago 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 Spanish version of the indictment can be read from the following link www.scribd.com/doc/246278845/Spanish-Court-Dawes-indictment
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 found here . (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. 
 

 

Eurojust and the case of Robert Dawes

 
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.

The Teflon Don slips away again

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 KingdomWhen 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 return of a true legend….



Roger Cook prepares a piece to camera for Abuse of Trust documentary

Earlier this year I had the pleasure to work with the legendary investigative journalist Roger Cook for a documentary we helped produce for the BBC titled An Abuse of Trust. The film will be screened on Tuesday at 10.35pm on BBC1 and tells the story of how an Oxford University educated paedophile school teacher was freed from prison only to change his identity by stealing the details of a young boy buried in a Derbyshire graveyard. Derek Slade then went on to dupe various charities and set up his own schools abroad abusing young schoolchildren until the authorities finally caught up with him in 2010.
I will let the documentary speak for itself, but I have to pay tribute to Roger for his persistence and professionalism in helping to get the story onto the screen. In the current climate of journalist-bashing which seeps from the open wound of “hackgate”, it is wonderful to still have people of Roger’s calibre working to uncover dark secrets and the impact of those upon ordinary people.  Through the seventies, via BBC radio’s Checkpoint programme, then through the eighties and nineties with The Cook Report, Roger paved the way for a particular kind of confrontational broadcast journalism.

He became known as the “Taped Crusader”, gaining a reputation as one of the bravest and most beaten up reporter working on the airwaves. It is worth remembering that without him there would have been no Paul Kenyon, Donal McIntyre or a host of other young bucks who have followed in his path but rarely equalled him in audience figures or respect. I can confirm that the camera still loves Roger and though he recently racked up 68 years on his body clock he can still deliver those wonderful understated pieces to camera which makes the viewer rightly outraged at the wrongs that permeate our society.  Roger, I salute you.