British crime lord Robert Dawes is under further investigation along with his French trial lawyers over a mysterious faked document used in his defence at his 2018 trial.
Dawes, 48, and three of his French lawyers have been the subject of a probe into an attempt to pervert the course of justice during his trial over 1.3 tonnes of cocaine seized at Paris’ Orly airport in September 2013. The news comes from French newspaper Le Point in an article by Marc Leplongeon.
Before Dawes was arrested in late 2015 he had been secretly recorded meeting with a Columbian connection at a five-star hotel in Madrid. The meeting was set to discuss future shipments of cocaine into Europe with Dawes bragging he could get illicit cargo into virtually any European airport. During the conversation which was being listened to by Guardia Civil officers, Dawes bragged that the French shipment hidden in more than 30 “ghost passenger suitcases was his load.
After being arrested and the case against him disclosed, Dawes knew he had a problem with the recording. His answer it appears was to construct a fake document indicating that the Guardia Civil did not have the proper legal authority to carry out the bugging at the Madrid hotel.
Somehow Dawes and a close associate managed to insert the document into official sealed court documents. However, their plan was rumbled halfway through the court case when prosecutors made contact with their Spanish counterparts and were sent the original document which showed the Spanish did have the authority to bug Dawes and that the document produced in court by Dawes’ lawyers was a fake.
Investigators in France are continuing their probe into the matter which could result in disciplinary action against Dawes’ lawyers and more jail time for Dawes himself.
Investigators have already intercepted Whatsapp messages between Dawes and a senior associate which they say indicate the two cooked up the forgery plan. In other messages there are indications that Dawes sought to try to crash his trial and get an acquittal by arguing he was a victim of a set-up by French-moroccan drug smuggler who had turned informant.
This was the case of Sofiane Hambli, which caused a scandal in France and led to the dismissal of one of France’s most senior police officers Francois Thierry. Dawes even went to the effort of hiring Sofiane Hambli’s own lawyer for his case, which investigators saw as an attempt to co-ordinate a “story” with Hambli.
Dawes will attempt to appeal his case against the 2018 Paris airport cocaine conviction in May this year after he was sentenced to 22 years in prison. he is also facing a murder investigation in the Netherlands over his connection to the 2002 brutal execution of Dutch schoolteacher Gerard Meesters.
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 who I have had the honour to work with. Nevertheless, it is exactly that position which gives me some 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 an organised crime group – parked on its own doorstep – to flourish. 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
PROSECUTORS in the Netherlands have re-opened the investigation into the murder of schoolteacher Gerard Meesters following a case review.
The move follows a formal complaint made last year by the family of Mr Meesters who was gunned down on his doorstep in Groningen in November 2002.
Prosecutors believe they have new evidence which connects the murder to British crime lord Robert Dawes, currently awaiting trial in Paris over a seizure of 1.3 tonnes of cocaine in September 2013.
Interviews with significant witnesses including Gerard Meesters’ son Koen will begin next week. Prosecutors are also likely to seek an interview with Daniel Sowerby who is currently serving a life sentence for carrying out the shooting.
During his court case in which fellow Brit Steven Barnes was also prosecuted as the getaway driver, Sowerby denied being the shooter but has since admitted he was a trusted employee of Robert Dawes at the time of the murder and had carried out various tasks on behalf of Dawes’ organised crime group including visiting Gerard Meesters in the days before the murder.
The organised crime group led by Dawes had lost a significant load of drugs which they believed had been stolen by Gerard’s sister Janette and a friend Madeleine Brussen. Sowerby was sent to the home of Mr Meesters, who had no involvement in crime, to demand the teacher contact the gangsters and let them know where his sister was.
Sowerby was accompanied by notorious Dutch gangster Gwenette Martha, and a number of other men and gave Mr Meesters a Spanish mobile number to call with information about his sister.
When Mr Meesters failed to tell the gang her whereabouts a shooter was dispatched a few days later to brutally murder Mr Meesters on his doorstep.
Gwenette Martha was shot dead in May 2014 as part of a violent power struggle between Dutch Moroccan groups wrestling for control over lucrative cocaine transport lines. Martha had been a close associate of Dawes from 2001 and the two had been doing business right up until his death.
It is expected that prosecutors from the Netherlands will seek to formally interview Dawes at some point in the re-investigation process.
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.
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.
IT BEGAN 15 years ago on November 24, 2002, at about 5.30pm when a group of five men gathered in the darkness at the front door of the dimly lit suburban home of a Dutch school teacher.
Four of the men waiting were Dutch nationals. The fifth man who stood at the front of the house on Uranusstraat, Groningen and rang the doorbell was a British national. In his hand, the British man held a strip of thin card torn from a packet of cigarette rolling papers on which was inscribed a Spanish mobile telephone number.
Gerard Meesters, a 52-year-old benign school teacher was at home with his 21-year-old son Koen when the doorbell rang. The Englishman asked: “Are you Mr Meesters, related to Janette?” He then began to explain that he had a message for Janette Meesters, Gerard’s sister. “It is very important you tell her to call this number,” the Englishman told him.
There was then some confusion as Gerard did not understand the man’s English very well. One of the Dutchmen impatiently pushed to the front to make the message clearer by explaining further in Dutch. “If you do not get her to call the number we will come back and it will not be to talk,” the man explained in Dutch. Gerard was shocked. His son Koen would later testify that he had never seen his father so frightened.
The group of men at the door then dissipated and walked around the corner to two waiting vehicles, one of which contained a sixth man, who was also British. The Dutchmen all got into one car and the British man joined his English colleague in a dark coloured Renault Kangoo. Police would later learn the British man who had gone to the door was a recently escaped prisoner called Daniel Sowerby and his driver was a Nottinghamshire man called Steven Barnes. Police would later learn that the two men took their orders directly from Robert Dawes, a British crime lord who was quickly building a violent criminal smuggling empire from his base on Spain’s Costa Del Sol. He was already being investigated by a large scale operation run by Nottinghamshire Police and backed by the National Crime Squad.
The car containing the Dutchmen included infamous gangster Gwenette Martha and his sidekick Etous Belsarang, head of the Amsterdam chapter of a biker group called Satudarah. Both were well known to police and to Robert Dawes, with whom they had done business. In fact Dawes continued to do business with Gwenette Martha right up until the Dutchman’s liquidation in 2014.
Four days after his scare on the doorstep, on November 28 2002, Gerard, who had left the house to stay with his son and daughter nearby, popped back to the house. He had alerted police to the threat a few days earlier and they did not know what to make of it. All Gerard knew was that his sister was in trouble in Spain but they had not spoken for several months. Just after 7pm Gerard logged into his computer. Then the doorbell went. As he opened the door a gunman rapidly fired eight shots from a handgun. Seven hit their mark. Gerard Meesters slumped in the hallway of his home. He was dead within a few minutes. Witnesses reported hearing popping sounds and seeing a black vehicle with its headlights extinguished moving off at speed nearby.
Later Daniel Sowerby would be convicted of the murder based largely on the testimony of his driver Steven Barnes. Sowerby received a life sentence and Barnes, who is now a free man in the UK, was sentenced to eight years by Dutch judges. Sowerby has consistently denied being the shooter but admitted his role in other parts of the story. The narrative everyone is agreed on is that Gerard, who was never involved in anything criminal, was shot dead because of the exploits of his wayward sister Janette and her friend, Madeleine Brussen. They became known as “Thelma and Louise” on Dutch phone taps which recorded Dawes’ associates talking about the shooting in the months afterwards and why Janette and her friend had gone on the run. It appears the gang believed that Janette and her friend had stolen part of a large consignment of cannabis, which Dawes had part ownership of. Gerard’s fate was sealed when he could not make contact with Janette and a decision was taken to end the talking and send a blood-soaked message.
For the past 15 years Koen and Annemarie Meesters have been unable to get closure on their father’s brutal murder because although the court recognised that Sowerby and Barnes were following orders given to them by the head of an organised crime group, the Dutch prosecutors felt there was not enough evidence to charge the leader of the group and the man they named in court and suspected of giving those orders; Robert Dawes.
Now, on the anniversary of Gerard Meesters’ death, his children have taken the extraordinary step of filing an official complaint naming Robert Dawes as the man who gave the orders and demanding that Dutch prosecutors look at the case again. Their hand is strengthened by a number of factors. Firstly they are being supported in their efforts by former and current Dutch police officers who handled their father’s case. There is also support from former officials in the Dutch prosecutor’s office, who believe collectively there are now enough details to put together a case against Robert Dawes. Thirdly the power which was once wielded by Dawes has diminished since he was arrested in November 2015 over a 1.3 tonnes load of cocaine shipped into Paris airport in September 2013.
Dawes will stand trial for that offence next year along with two footsoldiers and three members of the Camorra mafia. His incarceration has meant that the silence he could once demand from his footsoldiers and lieutenants is no longer guaranteed. It has meant that over time a clearer picture has emerged of the planning of Gerard Meesters’ murder and other crimes committed by the organised crime group led by Robert Dawes.
In the Dutch newspapers today Koen,36 and Annemarie,34, who I have been in regular contact with over the past four years, have spoken out about their frustration over the case and their hopes that the filing of the complaint will give the authorities no option but to review the case again in relation to Robert Dawes.
Koen told me: “More details have emerged over time and I believe there is a case when all the parts of the jigsaw are put together.
“If it turns out there is actually too little evidence and he is acquitted, we will have to accept this. Doing nothing is not an option for us. We can not live with that. ”
Roelf Wessels, the now-retired police officer who led the investigation into Gerard’s murder has also spoken out.
He said: “There was more than a reasonable suspicion of Robert Dawes involvement at the time. Dawes should have been arrested, but to date, the Public Prosecutor has never given permission. We have arrested suspects for less. ”
Koen and Annemarie Meesters also revealed that they have had contact with the man convicted of carrying out the shooting of their father – Daniel Sowerby – visiting him in prison to try to prise information from him about how he received his orders directly from Robert Dawes. Sowerby has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and may only have a short time to live.
ONE of the UK’s most powerful narco-traffickers will finally face the courtroom next year following his arrest in Spain almost two years ago.
Nottingham born Robert Dawes, 45, is charged with organising a 1.3 tonnes shipment of cocaine from Venezuela and seized in suitcases from a flight which touched down at Charles de Gaulle airport Roissy, Paris in September 2013, according to French prosecutors.
More details have also emerged about the case against the British crime lord from the French prosecutor’s indictment, including Dawes’ links to two British men arrested in Paris and to a wing of the Italian Camorra mafia.
According to French investigators, the operation against Dawes began on 8 July 2013 when information was received that a large consignment of cocaine was going to be sent from Venezuela to France via a passenger flight. The information stated that a British organised crime group was behind the shipment.
More information came through to French investigators enabling them to tag Roissy airport about 20 miles from the centre of Paris as the destination point. On September 11 the shipment arrived in 31 suitcases belonging to “ghost” passengers. Having intercepted the shipment by stealth, French investigators then placed undercover officers via an informant into the baggage handling facility at Charles-de-Gaulle airport.
On September 16 2013 the undercover baggage handler’s phone rang. The voice was a man speaking in English calling himself “Marcus”. A meeting was arranged for that evening in Paris. Location? Under the Eiffel Tower. “Marcus”, the evidence will say turned out to be a 34-year-old Nottinghamshire born man called Nathan Wheat.
Nathan Wheat born in Mansfield in 1983 was a known associate of Robert Dawes who, like his boss, lived on Spain’s Mijas Costa. Records showed he had also visited Venezuela in April 2013. Investigators believe this would have been to oversee the logistics of the Caracas to Paris transport operation on behalf of Robert Dawes. Several Venezuelan police officers with alleged links to the Venezuelan outfit Cartel de Los Soles and a Caracas airport remit would later be arrested. At the Eiffel Tower meet, “Marcus” handed a Dutch-sourced Blackberry encrypted with PGP technology to the undercover baggage handler “Sergio” and told him this was to be the only form of communication to be used from there on. Similar Dutch-sourced Blackberry mobiles with PGP encryption would later be discovered when Guardia Civil raided Robert Dawes palatial villa
in Benalmadena in November 2015. In court cases already dealt with, associates of Dawes were found to be in control of a mobile phone business registered at Companies House in the UK, selling encrypted sim cards with Blackberry phones at €2,000 a piece with branches all over the world. There was little legitimate business done by the mobile phone company. In reality, it was a cover for an encrypted network of communications designed to thwart all eavesdropping attempts by law enforcement agencies. One company director was jailed for 10 years in Portugal after being caught with a 167 kilo shipment of cocaine linked to Dawes. Another director, overseeing a cocaine shipment that went missing, was shot dead in Antwerp in 2012 leading to a wild west of tit for tat shootings in Netherlands and abroad which claimed upwards of 15 lives. Some of the victims were mistaken innocents and others were simply girlfriends or relatives of targets.
Oblivious the load had already been intercepted, Wheat then organised a meeting with “Sergio” at the Cafe Kleber in Paris. There Wheat gave the undercover baggage handler further instructions about where the shipment would be moved to and how it was to be split into four consignments. One split was just over 300 kilos which would go to representatives of the Camorra mafia gang from Naples. The Camorra shipment was allowed to travel out of the airport in a truck driven by an Italian before being stopped at the German border apparently on its way via Germany to a rendezvous in a Camorra held part of Italy. Two members of the Amato-Pagano clan linked to the Camorra, Vincenzo Aprea and Carmine Russo, both 49 years old, who had been dealing with Nathan Wheat were arrested and have been charged along with the lorry driver. Aprea is believed to be the Camorra clan’s representative in Spain.
The French authorities moved in on Nathan Wheat and his 30-year-old Nottingham colleague Kane Price. They were arrested while out shopping on the Champs Elysees. Price, who gave his occupation as a used car salesman, was bailed through lack of evidence, but after returning to the UK was then arrested handling a large amount of MDMA on behalf of a cell working for Robert Dawes. He was sentenced to three and half years following a court case at Stafford Crown Court in 2016. Wheat remains in custody in France.
Meanwhile, the Guardia Civil upped its monitoring of Dawes. Unable to break the encryption communications he was employing they resorted to tried and tested tactics used pursuing ETA terrorists. Surveillance of Dawes and his associates led investigators to a meeting at the five star Villa Magna hotel in Madrid on September 23, 2014. The meeting was between Dawes, a Columbian from the Medellin cartel and a Spanish/English interpreter. The Guardia Civil legally wired into the hotel’s CCTV and audio system to pick up the conversation and film the meeting. During the chat, Dawes revealed he could get narcotics shipments through most ports and airports in Europe through corrupt contacts. He mentioned contacts in ports such as Algeciras and Valencia in Spain, using ships from Venezuela and from Santos, Brazil, cargo planes in the Netherlands, ships from Morocco to Spain, containers in Antwerp, and shipments by commercial plane in suitcases through airports such as Brussels. Only the airport at Barajas, Madrid was impenetrable, he told the Columbians. His price was 30 per cent commission on the value of anything that went through the transport lines he controlled air, sea or land. Those networks would inevitably reveal a layer of corrupt officials within the import/export chain and law enforcement, whose loyalty Dawes had bought.
On tape Dawes was also caught boasting about the 1.3 tonnes of cocaine Paris shipment “the one that was in the news using the cases…that was mine”, he said. He appeared to be trying to convince the Medellin drug boss of his credentials. He was also caught telling the Columbian that the only way he would communicate with the Columbians would be via a Blackberry PGP encrypted mobile which he would supply to whoever he dealt with.
Dawes’ legal team, led by the so called “Jihadist’s Lawyer” Xavier Nogueras, are desperately trying to prevent this evidence from being included in the French court case, claiming that the material was illegally obtained. Dawes’ legal team is also interested in the use of informants in the case and in particular a reference in the case file to an infamous French drug smuggler Sofiane Hambli.
After the raid on Dawes’ Benalmadena villa on November 12 2015, the scale of his dealings has also become clearer. Documentation seized by Spain’s Guardia Civil investigators shows that the Briton had banking and telephone contacts spanning five continents in more than 50 countries including significant contacts in Afghanistan, UK, Malta, Syria, Italy, France, Netherlands, Nigeria, Finland, Somalia, Colombia, Pakistan, Russia, Australia, New Zealand and China.
Via his legal team, Dawes – currently being held at Fresnes prison near Paris – is expected to continue to attempt to water down the evidence which mounts against him and use delaying tactics in his case.
DUTCH-MOROCCAN criminal Naoufal Fassih will be stepping out onto the tarmac at a Dutch airport in the near future after a Dublin court agreed to his extradition on suspicion of a number of crimes including attempted murder.
Key evidence which links Fassih to the attempted liquidation of another Dutch man is expected to be provided to the courts after Blackberry phones, using PGP encryption, seized during the investigation into the shooting ,were cracked by forensic teams.
The granting of the extradition against Fassih emerged in a Dublin courtroom today .
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.
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.