British crime lord charged in connection with record 1.3 tonnes cocaine haul

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.

Robert Dawes now faces trial in France as the organiser of the record cocaine haul

Robert Dawes now faces trial in France as the organiser of the record cocaine haul

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.

The moment Guardia Civil officers led Robert Dawes away for extradition to France

The moment Guardia Civil officers led Robert Dawes away for extradition to France

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.

Manuel Valls shows off the cocaine seizure in September 2013

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls shows off the cocaine seizure in September 2013

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.

The beginning of the end for the crime family dubbed the A-team

AT AROUND 4pm last Friday a well-heeled couple sauntered down the pretty canal-lined streets which run parallel to Amsterdam’s Dam Square.

To most people they would have appeared to be nothing more than two of the thousands of middle-aged tourists enjoying a spot of afternoon window shopping on holiday in the Dutch capital. But when armed Dutch police officers swooped and arrested the couple as they reached Mosterdpotsteeg junction with Spuistraat, it was clear they were no ordinary tourists.

Dutch police had just detained 59-year-old Patrick “Patsy” Adams and his 55-year-old wife Constance, senior figures in the notorious Adams crime family from North London dubbed the A-Team. He was on the run and Britain’s most wanted.

Patrick Adams (left) and wife Constance Adams detained in Amsterdam

Patrick Adams (left) and wife Constance Adams detained in Amsterdam

In April this year, the Metropolitan Police quietly applied for a European Arrest Warrant to be issued against the couple in connection with the shooting in broad daylight of a former A-Team enforcer called Paul Tiernan on December 22 2013 in Clerkenwell. Despite gunshot wounds to the chest, Tiernan survived the attack and went on to later deny “one million percent” that Patrick Adams was behind the shooting.

The following month, the Met, having successfully applied for an arrest warrant, went public and issued photographs of the couple saying they were on the run, with the possibility they could be in Spain or Netherlands. Rumours subsequently abounded that they had in fact fled to Cyprus.

Alongside his brother Terry Adams, Patrick or Patsy as he often known, occupies a position at the very top of a well-oiled organised crime group which has brought terror to the streets and exercised a power which has even brought them to the attention of MI5 on the grounds of threats to national security. The A-team has been linked, since the early 90s, to more than 25 murders. In addition they have been involved in large shipments of class A drugs over three decades, and a myriad of other criminal enterprises from corruption and extortion to property fraud and money laundering.

The background to the arrest of “Patsy” and his wife is even more astonishing, if to be believed. According to the statement of the Dutch police , Adams and his wife were spotted wandering down Spuistraat by a police officer from the first floor of an overlooking police station. The officer, apparently specially trained in techniques of facial recognition, immediately linked Mrs Adams with photographs of the couple which had been distributed by British Police in May. The officer radioed to colleagues on the ground to follow the couple and ascertain if it truly was Britain’s most wanted. Shortly afterwards they were arrested and also linked to a safe house nearby which has been raided by the police and items seized.

A far more likely scenario is that British police had already tracked Adams through either sophisticated telecommunications or inside information and knew exactly where he was, and believed an arrest on the street would be safer having already ascertained where Adams was holed up. A knowledgeable source speculated: “In the war on organised crime it always helps if your enemy remains in the dark about the tools at your disposal. It would not be the first time that a cover story, if that is the case, has been produced to protect the back story to a high-profile arrest like this. If not its one of those one in a million chances that does sometimes happen.”

Another anomaly is that despite having clearly been informed the Met were on his trail, Adams thought Amsterdam was a safe haven. Adams could have chosen any one of a number of locations to lay low which do not have extradition agreements in place with the UK. Instead he chose one of the very locations police had flagged up as Adams’ potential sanctuary – perhaps Adams believed “the flat place”, as its known in criminal circles, was safe because the police had gone public.  Either way Adams must have known that co-operation between the British and Netherlands in cases such as this is extremely tight and will now have to shuffle his pack of cards like a magician to avoid being flown back to the UK in handcuffs.

According to Dutch sources the couple have indicated they are going to fight extradition to the UK. Dutch judges will have to rule on the application from the UK within the next three months.

There was more bad news for the A-Team. On the day the Met announced Adams and his wife were in custody in Holland, they also announced a raft of criminal charges against a number of other members of the A-Team including Patrick’s younger brother.

Michael Adams, 50, and his partner Deborah Heath, 48, were charged following series of raids carried out by Scotland Yard and HM Revenue and Customs, mostly across the north of the capital last year.

Adams was arrested at his Finchley home in April 2014 as part of Operation Octopod when more than 100 police and customs officers raided properties across the capital and south east.

He is charged with four offences of converting banknotes, knowing they were obtained from crime, falsely stating his income for tax purposes and two charges of money laundering.

Heath, who was arrested at the same time is charged with the money laundering offence of concealing banknotes.

Four others were also charged including retired chartered accountant Rex Ekaireb, 67, of Hendon, is charged with intent to defraud HMRC. It is claimed he falsely stated the level of income Michael Adams received for “consultancy work, commissions and introduction fees”.

Ekaireb’s son Robert, a property developer, was recently jailed for life for the murder of his Chinese wife Lihau Cao, whose body was never discovered. Police believe Robert Ekaireb was close to the A-team and had phoned Adams’ family associates at a West End club controlled by the A-team for help disposing of his wife’s body on the night of the murder.

His father Rex Ekaireb is also charged with converting criminal property to launder cash. Four others are also charged under the Proceeds of Crime Act. All six charged have been bailed to appear at Croydon Magistrates Court in October. 22 others arrested at the time of Operation Octopod remain on bail.

It seems that finally last orders may be about to be called on the A-team as police begin to fragment this tight organised crime group which has brought so much fear to the capital and spilled so much blood.

Goldfinger: A spider’s web of stealth, wealth and death..

John Palmer pictured in 2002

John Palmer pictured in 2002

By Carl Fellstrom, Tom Worden and David Connett
A top-secret surveillance operation monitored gunned-down timeshare fraudster John “Goldfinger” Palmer for at least eight years up until his death two weeks ago, it can be revealed.
The British operation, which drew upon listening devices placed by Spanish law enforcement, amassed a treasure trove of intelligence on organised crime figures from at least 2007. Fears about the operation being compromised by corrupt police officers resulted in it being established at a remote RAF base in the north of England.
A four-man team, some of whom retired during the course of the operation but were kept on for operational and secrecy reasons, was fed a daily diet of information about Palmer’s meetings and associations as he flitted around the globe and between Britain, Tenerife and mainland Spain.
Essex detectives investigating Palmer’s killing have requested help from the Spanish authorities about possible motives and suspects. It can also be revealed that Palmer, found dead in the garden of his Essex home in June, was shot in the chest and leg by a low-calibre weapon firing ammunition designed to cause maximum fragmentation inside the target.
The assassin had cut a hole out of a panel in the fence that surrounded the dead man’s secluded garden. Police have removed the panel for further examination.
The surveillance operation was based at an unlisted office within RAF Spadeadam, on the borders of Cumbria and Northumberland. The intelligence gleaned from the surveillance of Palmer and his associates led to a myriad of other operations being set up.
They picked up Palmer doing business with crime bosses from the UK, Russia, Romania and Spain, and created an intelligence file that read like a who’s who of organised crime, according to sources.
One former intelligence source with the Serious Organised Crime Agency, forerunner to the National Crime Agency, said: “They were being fed intelligence by the Spanish including phone calls and other surveillance material. It was kept as quiet as possible because of fears about corruption issues within British law enforcement, and legal issues surrounding the operation’s involvement with the Spanish and the obtaining of intelligence from those bugs.”
Palmer was charged with money laundering and fraud in Tenerife in May and was on bail. He was reputedly worth £300m, but investigators believe that figure was greatly exaggerated. In May 2005 he was declared bankrupt and all his assets, including seven timeshare resorts, were taken over by a trustee in bankruptcy. British police believe a number of his assets were taken over by the Adams family, the north London crime gang.
Spanish investigators tracking down Palmer’s assets found he owned a complex network of 122 companies, many offshore in the Isle of Man, Madeira and the British Virgin Islands, as well as 60 offshore bank accounts. The accounts were seized and the timeshare resorts were sold off for approximately £30m, mostly to Russian investors.
Palmer was sued in a group action by many of his thousands of victims and was ordered to repay them £4m.However, Spain’s tax authority seized the bulk of the money raised from the asset sales, leaving his victims with little prospect of recovering their money. He also spent around £5m in legal fees.
A source on the financial investigation estimated the criminal’s fortune to be nearer to £50m. The source said: “Palmer said he blew a huge amount of money in the 1990s on cocaine and girlfriends. He had a massive cocaine habit and the lifestyle to go with it – the private jet, the yacht, the Ferraris.
“He had four or five girlfriends at any one time, and would fly around the world on his private jet, to Barbados, Russia, the US, Germany, France, Switzerland. He also said he spent a fortune paying off judges, police officers and politicians in Tenerife.
“He said he once flew a private jet back from Russia full of cash. He was stopped at Madrid airport and bribed a policeman with a suitcase full of cash to turn a blind eye. Palmer had millions coming in in cash but blew millions at the same time. He used the 60 offshore accounts like personal bank accounts. His finances were complete chaos. So much of his business was done in cash, there was always a mountain of cash lying around in his Tenerife office. Literally stuffed in suitcases or lying around the office. He never paid tax and thought he would get away with it by bribing officials.”
Palmer’s yacht – Brave Goose of Essex – seized by a Spanish court in 2001, is worth much less than its reputed £1m value. An expert valued it at £400,000 but said it would cost £250,000 to make it seaworthy. “If you untied it from the dock it would sink,” the source said. Palmer’s collection of classic cars from the 1940s and 1950s, worth around £500,000, was allowed to corrode in the sea air in a Tenerife pound.
While Palmer was declared bankrupt and was officially broke, his partner Christina Ketley, who he met when she worked for him as a timeshare rep in the 1980s, was not. The house in South Weald, Essex, is in her name as is a two-storey flat overlooking the sea in south Tenerife. Ms Ketley, 55, is a director of seven companies in Spain and five in the UK. Prosecutors recently tried, but failed, to have her assets frozen.
She is facing fraud and money-laundering charges in Spain, and could be jailed for up to eight years if convicted. Last week prosecutors said they expect the case against her and nine others, including two of Palmer’s nephews, to go ahead at Madrid’s National Court.
Prosecutors alleged Ms Ketley ran Palmer’s business while he was jailed in the UK (he was sentenced to eight years for fraud in 2001, serving four). Sources close to Palmer insist he had no intention of pleading guilty to charges in Spain and a senior prosecution source described suggestions of a plea bargain as “pure fantasy”.
A defence source said Palmer vigorously denied the charges and had no intention of pleading guilty. He was due to fly to Madrid for a defence strategy when he was murdered.
The source said: “John Palmer was not a grass and he had no intention of becoming one. We believed there was every chance the case against him would have been thrown out.”
Before his death, friends say he was helping Ms Ketley run her Tenerife restaurant. He had his bail varied to return to Britain for surgery.

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.