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.

Turkish gang charged over UK’s largest cocaine seizure off Scottish coast

MV Hamal boat is intercepted by Royal Navy

MV Hamal boat is intercepted by Border Force and Royal Navy vessels last week. Nine Turkish men have been charged

IN what appears to be the largest single seizure of cocaine in the UK, the authorities have charged nine Turkish men as part of the smuggling probe into more than three tonnes of the drug.

The nine men, aged between 26 and 63, all appeared before Aberdeen Sheriff’s Court yesterday, charged with possession of a controlled drug after an operation last week which saw the tug they crewed, MV Hamal, intercepted by Royal Navy and Border Force vessels.

The operation followed a tip off from the French customs after the tug, registered to Marshall Islands company Kiev Shipping and Trading Corporation, and flying a Tanzanian flag, was spotted 100 miles off the Scottish coast heading for Hamburg port. The German port has in recent years become a mirror to Antwerp as a shipping gateway for the introduction of South American cocaine into Europe. French sources believe the drugs could have been loaded onto the vessel in the Canary Islands early in April where it had docked.

Officers from the National Crime Agency working in conjunction with Police Scotland and the Royal Navy boarded the boat and brought it ashore to Aberdeen last week. French sources have estimated the seizure at more than two tonnes with a search of the boat continuing for several days.

The largest previous UK seizure of cocaine was in May 2011 in Southampton when a 1.2 tonnes load connected to Dutch-moroccan gangster, Samir Bouyakhrichan, later assassinated in Marbella, Spain, was seized from a luxury cruiser.

Though searches of the boat are expected to be completed by tomorrow, the load seized in Aberdeen could amount to as much as the total 2.4 tonnes of cocaine seized in the UK for the year 2011/12.

Seven men from Istanbul appeared in court yesterday.Mustafa Ceviz, 54, Ibrahim Dag,47, Mumin Sahin, 45, Mahammet Seckin, 26, Umit Colakel, 38, Kayacan Dalgakiran, 63, Emin Ozmen, 50, were remanded in custody along with two men other Turkish men arrested on the boat; Abdulkadir Cirik, 31, from Mersin, and Mustafa Guven,47, from Yozgat. Investigations are continuing into the gang behind the smuggling plot.

This seizure comes just 10 days after 2.25 tonnes of cocaine was seized from a yacht off the Martinique, the largest ever by French customs, in an operation which also involved the National Crime Agency.

In the past year large scale cocaine and heroin shipments which have been intercepted by the authorities have led to crime gangs in Netherlands, with links to Turkey and Morocco, executing a series of assassinations of significant gang members across the globe in an apparent power struggle.

UPDATE: Since this article was published, the National Crime Agency has confirmed that the drugs amount to more than three tonnes with a value in excess on the street of more than £500 million see National Crime Agency