Something for the weekend

I confess I do not come to this post as a passive observer. When reviewing Michael Gillard’s new book Legacy I should declare an interest and point out that the author is a friend and colleague whom I have had the honour to work with. Nevertheless, it is exactly that position which gives me the authority to declare how much soul-searching Michael went through to get this mighty tome to publication; not least in terms of his own safety. The Osman warnings he has received are a testament to this.

Legacy is not just a stunning tale. It is also a forensic analysis of how the inertia of the UK’s most powerful police force coupled with a failure to recognise its own corrupt elements, led to an organised crime group parked on its own doorstep, flourishing. In time internal Metropolitan Police reports would document that David Hunt, a Canning Town gangster, had become “too big” for them to take down.

It was not always this way. Through the narrative, we meet a police officer and his dedicated team who did their best to bring David Hunt and his cohorts to book. Unfortunately for DCI David McKelvey, or “Mac” as he is known, he was not just battling the gangsters but his own employers. We learn that, while investigating and successfully collecting prima facie evidence of Hunt’s crimes, Mac is subjected to the kind of scrutiny and pressure from the Met’s Professional Standards Unit – the Ghost Squad – usually reserved for bent coppers. The result was McKelvey retired almost a mentally broken soul, though he has now pieced his life back together. The cases lined up against David Hunt were effectively “collapsed”. Hunt’s power and wealth grew and he remains a free man to this day.

What changed the landscape was Michael Gillard’s journalism for the Sunday Times. Through a series of stories, he spoke out for the victims of David Hunt’s crimes, exposing the reality of Hunt’s criminal endeavours to the public and eventually the full glare of a courtroom. As Michael’s articles began to damage David Hunt’s business interests the gangster became angrier culminating in him launching a libel action against The Sunday Times. It did not end well for Hunt resulting in the presiding judge declaring that Hunt was indeed head of an organised crime group.

It was after the libel action that my path crossed Michael’s when I wrote a story for The Independent revealing a £1 million loan which West Ham United owner David Sullivan had given to David Hunt at the end of the court case. There followed collaborations on a clutch of stories regarding the finances of Hunt and the stench of corruption which surrounded the man.

West Ham United co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan give the Hammer salute flanked to the right by crime boss David Hunt. Sullivan later lent the crime boss £1 million.

However, Legacy goes much further than detailing the rise of an organised crime boss. Gillard digs deep into the backdrop – the battle for the spoils of land being developed for the London Olympics and a factual nod to The Long Good Friday scripted by Barrie Keeffe, who gives Legacy his own seal of approval. Legacy, says Keeffe, “adds credence to the old adage that truth can be stranger than fiction”. The chapters on the stench of corruption emanating from the local authorities dealing with the London games are particularly revealing.

Legacy is an important book, which like one of Michael Gillard’s previous publications The Untouchables, sets a high bar for investigative journalism. More importantly, we should reflect that journalists carrying out this kind of work are facing threat levels never seen before in the UK. We don’t do this for the money for sure, the recompense for putting ourselves in the firing line is paltry. We do this work because we feel passionate about exposing the wrongs we encounter and to give a voice to those who otherwise would not have not been heard. Long may that continue. So a book well worth investing a few pounds in. But don’t take my word for it, grab a copy of Legacy this weekend and see for yourselves.

Crime Lord to face arrest over brutal 2002 murder

British crime lord Robert Dawes, recently jailed in Paris over a 1.3 tonnes shipment of cocaine, will be quizzed by Dutch detectives over the brutal murder of school teacher Gerard Meesters.

French and Dutch authorities have confirmed that a European Arrest Warrant has been granted for 46-year-old Dawes after new evidence linking the crime boss to the murder has emerged.

Dawes under surveillance in Spain in 2013

The arrest warrant was granted on November 26 just weeks before Dawes was convicted for a 1.3 tonnes shipment of cocaine seized at Charles de Gaulle airport in September 2013. The move was seen as backstop position should Dawes be cleared of the Paris charges. Just before Christmas, after a two-week trial, he was convicted and sentenced to 22 years for organising the load on board a passenger flight from Caracas, Venezuela.

Under the terms of the arrest warrant, Dawes could be extradited to the Netherlands and face a trial over the murder of Mr Meesters in the very near future. A murder charge would take precedence over the recent sentence for the drug conviction. However, it is highly likely that any extradition to the Netherlands will have to be ratified by a judge in France.

It is understood Dutch prosecutors, after submitting a legal assistance request several months ago, are still awaiting authority from the British government to interview several witnesses in the case in the UK.

During the trial in Paris, evidence emerged of Dawes’ links to organised crime groups across the world and South America drug cartels over a 17 year period as well as his links another murder in Nottinghamshire in 2002 and the disappearance of a man whose body has never been found.

After the conviction National Crime Agency deputy director Matt Horne said: “Dawes was one of the most significant organised criminals in Europe with a network that literally spanned the globe.

“He had connections in South America, the Middle East, Asia and across Europe, which enabled him to orchestrate the movements of huge amounts of class A drugs and money.

“This was often facilitated by the utilisation of corrupt law enforcement, port workers and government officials.Despite the fact Dawes has been based overseas for many years, his offending has continued to have an impact on communities in the UK, particularly in Nottingham and the East Midlands.

“Dawes was prepared to use extreme levels of violence in order to further his reputation and take retribution against those who crossed him. Members or associates of his criminal group are known to have been involved in intimidation, shootings and murders.”

The trial of “The One” begins in Paris….expect some twists and turns

ONE of the UK’s biggest Narcos will go on trial Monday accused of being the mastermind behind the biggest haul of cocaine seized in France.

In a 70 page document, French prosecutors, backed by evidence obtained from four national law enforcement agencies, accuse Robert Dawes of heading a ruthless drug cartel based in Spain since 2001, which had criminal tentacles reaching out across the globe to 60 countries.

Over two weeks at France’s highest court, prosecutors will present evidence that the 46-year-old Nottingham-born criminal, known only as “The One” to those in business with him, was behind an audacious plan which resulted in 1.3 tonnes of high-grade cocaine being seized at Paris’ Roissy airport in September 2013. The French drug enforcement agency OCRTIS, tipped off by the UK’s National Crime Agency agents in Venezuela, followed the drugs as they were transferred via more than 30 suitcases of “ghost” passengers aboard a commercial flight from Caracas to Paris.

Dawes under surveillance in Spain in 2013

Jointly accused with Dawes are two of his footsoldiers Nathan Wheat,35 and Kane Price, 31 and three Italians including a high-ranking member of the notorious Camorra mafia, Vincenzo Aprea aged 50. Prosecutors conclude that Dawes was acting as the “DHL” man, or logistics head for a number of organised crime groups in Europe and North America. For the price of 30 per cent of the value of the load Dawes would ensure the drugs passed through customs checkpoints via corrupt port workers who were on his payroll.

Surveillance of Dawes before his arrest in November 2015 showed him in contact with corrupt Spanish law enforcement officers and former port authority managers working in Algeciras, Spain. Prosecutors believe there was also evidence that Dawes had obtained French law enforcement files on the case within just eight weeks of Nathan Wheat’s arrest. Investigators also have information that Dawes planned to import a two-ton cocaine load from Colombia just weeks after the Paris bust.

An arrest warrant was issued for Dawes, now 46, after he was caught on bugs bragging about the Paris cocaine load. Elite Guardia Civil officers followed Dawes to a meeting at Madrid’s five star Villa Magna Hotel where he was caught on film and audio meeting a high ranking member of Colombia’s Carli Cartel and a Venezuela drug lord. According to the UK’s National Crime Agency, the Colombian man meeting Dawes was “a prolific money launderer for the Cali cartel and had political connections at the highest levels of the Colombian government”.

At the meeting Dawes spelt out his skills at getting drugs into virtually any country. He insisted on using highly encrypted blackberry mobile to communicate if they were to do business. In fact, Dawes was in control – via associates including the late Dutch crime lord Gwenette Martha – of a specialist sim card and mobile phone supplier registered at Companies House. The PGP encryption technology it supplied was virtually unbreakable and as soon as arrests began to take place after the Paris bust, Dawes ensured that all the phones in use were wiped remotely of any criminal evidence.

Robert Dawes discusses business over drinks with the Columbians at Hotel Villa Magna, Madrid

Dawes was transferred to a high-security prison in France shortly after his arrest but within a few weeks he had sourced a mobile phone and was calling his family in Spain and his Chinese mistress. During one call to his Chinese mistress Dawes, angered by her actions while in Dubai, threatened to kill her.

Investigators have frozen a number of Dawes assets including a large plot of land with a fishing lake in Coin, Spain and a luxurious villa in Benalmadena, Spain which was in the name of a Lichtenstein nominee business. They are also continuing to focus on money laundering activities in Malta, where Dawes had a company, Dubai, where he had at least £10 million worth of property and banking links in Switzerland, Pakistan and China.

The moment Dawes was led away from his Spanish villa to face extradition to France

Since his arrest Dawes’ lawyers have made a number of attempts to have some of the evidence against him ruled inadmissible, even going to the European Court of Human Rights to have bugging evidence ruled illegal. However their submissions have all been rebuffed.

A key part of the defence strategy has also been to question the methods used by the French drug enforcement agency OCRTIS and in particular the role of an informant, French-Moroccan drug lord Sofiane Hambli, in the bust at Paris airport. Hambli’s handler Francois Thierry, former head of OCRTIS, whose methods have come under scrutiny, is expected to give evidence in the case.

The fact that Hambli’s own lawyer Joseph Cohen Sabban has been seconded to Dawes legal team is an indication of how important Dawes’ lawyers believe this line of inquiry is in the case.

Another brutal execution in the Dutch “Mocro Maffia” war…this time the inaction must end

THIS morning on an industrial estate near the NDSM shipyard in Amsterdam a 41-year-old businessman was shot dead as he prepared to interview a man for a job.

The victim, Reduan Bakkali, had committed only one “crime”. He happened to be the brother of 30-year-old Nabil Bakkali, who the Dutch justice system trumpeted a week ago as the first key witness to turn states evidence and help solve some of the murders in a wave of liquidations in the Netherlands and abroad known as the Mocro Maffia war.

At the heart of this wave of murders is the trade in cocaine and the money to be made from it, yet until now the restrained Dutch nation has yet to be galvanized into real action against the ultimate perpetrators of these crimes; those ordering the murders. A number of the killings have been cases of mistaken identity.

The planning of this latest atrocity was stunning in its brazen quality. Last week the Dutch judiciary announced Nabil Bakkali had entered witness protection and had already made a significant number of statements about the people behind the wave of killings which include those of Martin Kok, the crime blogger and others.

On Monday an Interpol alert was issued for the arrest of the leaders of the organised crime group which Nabil is to give evidence about. Ridouan Taghi, believed to be one of the leaders, remains a fugitive from the law, yet it appears was still able to orchestrate this flagrant snub to the rule of law from a hideaway somewhere abroad, probably South America.

Ridouan Taghi, seen as one of the Mocro-Maffia leaders and now a wanted man

Today Nabil’s brother Reduan was shot in the head at close range by a man who had answered a job advert and was being interviewed by Reduan Bakkali. There is little doubt that the killing was carried out as a warning message to those who are thinking about becoming witnesses or who cross the leaders of organised crime groups.The message was simple: “If we can’t get you, we will target your relatives.”

This is the same criminal code which saw innocent Dutch teacher Gerard Meesters murdered in November 2002 after his sister had stolen a batch of drugs belonging to British crime lord Robert Dawes. In that case, the Dutch justice system has, so far, failed to bring the man who ordered that murder to justice.

Questions will now be asked in the Netherlands at the highest levels as to why Nabil’s brother himself was not protected even if, as it’s been reported, he had asked for minimal security measures.

As one prominent Dutch journalist told me today: “This is exactly the kind of incident you see in any Narco state. Amsterdam has become like the Miami of 1970s United States.”

The real question which needs to be answered is what solutions does the state have to tackle the cancerous growth of an organised crime disease which has gone far beyond affecting just those villains in its grip.

Death of a crime blogger

IT WAS THE DAY journalists who follow crime closely in “the flat place” feared was always close but hoped would not happen.

Martin Kok, crime blogger and owner of the popular Vlinderscrime.nl site, was brutally shot dead outside the Boccaccio club, a brothel 20 miles from Amsterdam, as he sat in his VW car around 11.30pm last night in the small surburb of Laren.

According to reports from the club owner, Martin had arrived at the club a few hours earlier with a friend who was speaking English and who had been with Kok earlier in the evening. Two hours later after leaving, Kok was ambushed in his car by a lone assassin dressed in black wearing a black balaclava. Police believe he escaped from the scene in a BMW.

Martin, 49, had moved from a life of crime at a young age, which involved convictions for extortion and a 14 year jail term for manslaughter, to become one of the most read crime bloggers in the Netherlands attracting more than a million visitors to his site every month.

A writing talent he was not, but in the two years I and other crime journalists had come to know Martin’s work, it was clear he had become a significant thorn in the side of serious organised crime figures and the authorities alike.

His website had become a dumping ground for sensitive documents from the criminal underworld and Martin pulled no punches in naming and shaming people he believed were at the top of the organised crime food chain.

Often this would lead to litigation threats from the lawyers of those named or sanctions aimed at removing sensitive documents from the site which the authorities did not wish the public to see.

martin-kok_-horenzienzwijgen

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. Martin Kok shot dead aged 49

He would drive a coach horse through the established legal decree in the Netherlands that criminal suspects should not have their full faces shown in photographs or full names reported in the media. Martin would name the suspects and refuse to place the usual black band redaction for the eyes of suspects, which he viewed as an unacceptable veil of respectability and censorship.

The content on his website would more often than not lead to tensions and sometimes to death threats. In the past two years, those threats became more real when his house and car were shot up on one occasion and then earlier this year an explosive device was placed underneath his vehicle.

However, the reality of these threats did nothing to deter Martin, despite his role as a father of a three-year-old. The threats simply added fuel to his fire.

He said in July this year: “I take it as a compliment when someone puts me on a death list.”

Lunchtime on the day of his death he met with a number of the Netherlands major crime journalists from Het Parool, Panorama and other mainstream media,  to discuss ways in which they could all collaborate in a more meaningful way towards covering the current organised crime war going on in the Netherlands and further afield.

He was not everyone’s favourite and, without a doubt, some of his postings were reckless beyond belief. Some articles such as those involving significant Dutch-Moroccan crime bosses displayed a bravado bordering on suicidal. He often posted without checking basic facts and many quarters of the media believed he was a renegade to treat with extreme caution. Yet he was certainly valued at times by the crime news establishment, his material often followed up and some of those within the established crime reporting milieu could not have written their more measured and detailed pieces without the documents and contacts which Martin often provided.

How will Martin Kok’s assassination be seen in the criminal environment? There will be those that say his own recklessness killed him but really no-one knows what the motive is. He made enemies before he became a blogger and afterwards. Worryingly, there is now a clear escalation of tension and fear among those journalists who knew Martin and whose job is to write about crime in the Netherlands.

After unheeded warnings to Martin to tone things down, many feared this day was inevitable. It may be too much to hope that the reporting is not blunted by the real fear that mainstream journalists will be targeted now for exposing organised crime.

Wouter Laumans, the respected co-author of Mocro-Maffia, told me many months ago during one period when Martin Kok’s life was under threat and his website under much discussion: “What can you tell him, he knows the danger, he is from that world. No matter what anyone says to him he will carry on.”

Martin Kok desperately wanted to be perceived as a journalist with “juicy information” as he put it. But the truth was he didn’t appreciate any journalistic rulebook. His uploading of gigabytes of files on the Holleeder case which hadn’t been disclosed, was like a Wikileaks blizzard of unchecked and potentially sensitive witness information. His last message via Whatsapp last night just a few hours before he died was full of dark irony. It read simply: “A beautiful life, a journalist.” Whether or not the passage of time will place him in that category remains to be seen. His life along with his dream job ended violently. There was no beauty at the end.

“Key associate” linked to Robert Dawes arrested in Spain

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.

“Mocro-Maffia” man arrest in Dublin reveals links to Kinahan crime group

WHEN Garda detectives carried out a series of raids across Dublin last week in connection with the violent war between two rival Irish groups they didn’t expect to find a senior figure from a Dutch-Moroccan organised crime group.

Last week police officers descended on properties linked to the gang led by Christy Kinahan, the Dublin criminal known as the “Dapper Don”, who is based on Spain’s Costa Del Sol.

The raids, co-ordinated and targeted across the city, were designed to cause disruption within the ranks of the Kinahan gang and mute the current war between the Kinahan group and a group headed by Gerry “The Monk” Hutch. The feud has so far claimed at least five lives.

On April 7 at a swanky apartment filled with designer clothes in Baggot Street Lower, Dublin, detectives carrying out a pre-planned raid hoped to find evidence of the Kinahan clan, who are believed to use the €2,900 a month apartment as a safe house. Instead they found a man with a false Dutch passport and false Belgian identity papers. They also found three watches worth more than €80,000. The Dutchman was wearing trainers worth €800.

After the suspect had been arrested and fingerprinted Garda officers sent off an urgent check to Interpol. Their Dutch colleagues confirmed that the man they had arrested was 35-year-old Naoufal Fassih believed to be a senior figure of an Organised Crime Group fighting a bloody war on the streets of Amsterdam over a cocaine theft.

 

Naoufal Fassih, a significant player in the "Mocro Maffia" war currently being played out in Netherlands

Naoufal Fassih, a significant player in the “Mocro Maffia” war currently being played out in Netherlands

Fassih is understood to be a member of the criminal group led by Dutch crime boss Gwenette Martha, who was assassinated in Amsterdam in May 2014. The same group has been at war with another Dutch Moroccan group headed by Benaouf Adaoui over the theft of a batch of cocaine from Antwerp in 2012.

According to Dutch sources Fassih was also present when Dutch gangster Samir Bouyakhrichan was murdered in Marbella in August 2014. Another member of the same group Najib “Ziggy” Himmich disappeared in Madrid in November 2014. He is believed to have been abducted and murdered, though no body has yet been discovered. Himmich’s  girlfirend Luana Luz Xavier was shot dead in front of her children in Amsterdam in December 2014. Dutch police have linked all the deaths to the ongoing feud.

When Fassih appeared in court in Dublin this week, he was refused bail after the judge decided he was a “flight risk”. He has been charged with possession and use of a false passport and may face further charges of money-laundering unless he can provide evidence of his monetary income.

Judge Cormac Dunne deferred a decision on free legal aid after hearing the luxury apartment Fassih was arrested in contained three watches worth more than €80,000, as well as almost €13,000 in cash. Fassih was also wearing trainers worth at least €800.
Fassih is due to appear at Cloverhill District Court on April 22, when a decision will be taken about whether to move the case to the circuit court in Dublin. Fassih was represented in court by barrister Keith Spencer. Police said they had found two Rolex watches worth €8,350, and €35,000. A third watch found was a limited edition Audemars Piguet Royal Oak worth €40,000.

Meanwhile Dutch detectives, who have been investigating the brutal slaying and beheading of 23-year-old Nabil Amzieb in Amsterdam last month, are taking a keen interest in the proceedings in Dublin.

 

 

British brothers jailed after 12-year-old Dutch schoolboy shot dead over cocaine theft feud

TWO British men were part of a drugs gang which shot dead a 12-year-old Dutch schoolboy by mistake after they were sent to kidnap members of a family believed to have stolen a huge batch of cocaine.
 
A Dutch court has sentenced half-brothers Alistair Weekes and Tyrone Gillard to 20 years in prison along with a third defendant, Dutchman Marcellino Fraser, after 12-year-old Danny Gubbels was shot dead in Breda, Netherlands in July 2010.
The trio were part of a seven-man team which arrived at the Gubbels static caravan home in Breda with the intent of kidnapping John Gubbels, father of Danny, according to court records. They had been sent by their crime bosses, to resolve the issue of a missing 400 kilos shipment of cocaine from a container in Antwerp in 2010.
 
On the evening of July 14th 2010, the gang banged on the door of the Gubbels’ home with no response. Shortly after, several members of the gang began opening fire believing the house was empty. But inside Danny was playing computer games at the table with his mother nearby. Both were hit by fragments of rounds which ricocheted around the building in a 20 second burst of automatic fire in which 27 rounds hit the Gubbels’ home.

Danny Gubbels, who died aged 12

Danny Gubbels, who died aged 12

 
While Danny’s mother survived the firearms onslaught after diving onto the floor, her son’s vital organs were hit by a ricochet. A fragment of a round penetrated his liver. He died in hospital from his wounds later the same night.
 
It transpired, the crime scene had been under police surveillance for a number of weeks prior to, and at the time of the shooting. Dutch crime investigators were probing the Gubbels family links to cocaine smuggling. Police camera images showed the men in balaclavas arrive in a transit van before approaching the door of the Gubbels house and attempt to gain entry and then begin firing.
 
Police traced the gunmen after the van they used in the raid was discovered and DNA samples linked Weekes, Gillard and Fraser to the crime scene. An initial prosecution against the trio in 2013 resulted in only Gillard and Fraser being convicted and sentenced to 16 years in prison. But prosecutors appealed the case and Weekes was also convicted with the sentences raised to 20 years for all three defendants in a ruling last week. At this hearing Tyrone Gillard had admitted to driving the gunmen to the scene of the shooting in Breda. Fraser and Weekes denied being part of the gang but DNA evidence on a number of items seized from the van linked them to the crime scene. Investigators have been unable to identify at least four others involved in Danny Gubbels’ death.
 
Weekes, 34 and Gillard, 29, both from Leeds born to the same mother but different fathers, were known to police in the UK. Weekes was arrested by officers from the then Serious Organised Crime Agency (now the National Crime Agency) in Armley prison, Leeds on a European Arrest Warrant in 2011. He had previously been convicted of shooting his half-brother Nathan Williams by mistake after a sawn-off shotgun they had been “messing around with” went off in December 2001.
 
The two claimed they had been given the gun by another man while they were behind a takeaway food shop in Armley, Leeds. Williams’ life was only saved by the skill of medical staff.He went on to make a full recovery. Weekes, then a 20-year-old, was sentenced to four years in a young offenders’ institution.
 
Tyrone Gillard was arrested by a team of Dutch SWAT officers in Amsterdam, where it is understood he had been living for at least a year. In court, few details have emerged about the power-base behind those hired to resolve the debt. 
 
One person of interest, identified by Dutch investigators as an investor in the cocaine load which was stolen, was a man named Samir Bouyakhrichan. Samir went by the nickname “Scarface”. The Dutch-Moroccan was believed to be one of Europe’s biggest drugs kingpins and had previously been linked to a huge haul of cocaine in Southampton in 2011.
Bouyakhrichan was arrested in connection with the Gubbels murder enquiry and was extradited from Spain to Netherlands on a European Arrest Warrant in March 2012. Dutch investigators quizzed him but courts ruled there was not enough to prosecute him. He was released within a week. He was dead within two years. Gunned down late at night in a Benahavis cafe near Marbella, Spain in August 2014, Bouyakhrichan, 36, was yet another victim of a violent power struggle which is ongoing in the Dutch underworld.
 
One question has taxed the minds of Dutch prosecutors in this case. Why would English criminals be tasked with a job in the “flat place” unless there were English interests to be protected.
 
A Dutch source with knowledge of the investigation said: “We believe that the death of Danny Gubbels was linked to a stolen batch of cocaine which a member of the Gubbels family had ripped from a bigger organisation. The gang may have been told to kidnap a family member to demand their goods or money back but it went wrong and Danny tragically paid the price for this. The use of a number of English gang members in this would indicate that there was some British interest involved.”
 
Danny’s father John Gubbels and his eldest son were both convicted of cocaine trafficking after 130 kilos of the drug were discovered in a police raid after Danny’s death.
 
 

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.

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