A CRIMINAL network working under the orders of organised crime boss Robert Dawes has been jailed following a joint police investigation into the large-scale movement of cocaine and amphetamines.
Dawes trusted footsoldiers, Christopher Turton and Dale Wright, were part of a Nottinghamshire cell working for the Spanish-based crime boss. Dawes, a former Sutton-in-Ashfield resident, is currently in custody in France awaiting trial for a 1.3 tonnes load of cocaine seized at Paris’ Charles De Gaulle airport in September 2013.
This week, Turton and Wright were among 13 people convicted of drugs offences and money-laundering. Turton received a 10 year sentence and Wright, previously a target of police investigating Robert Dawes, received a 6 year and 8 month sentence
Police discovered Turton, had himself been subjected to a punishment shooting after sending a courier with more than £100,000 down the M1 only to be stopped by Leicestershire police officers working on behalf of the East Midlands Serious Crime Unit (EMSOU) and the National Crime Agency (NCA).
The man they stopped was Robert Durant, also of Sutton-in-Ashfield, who was couriering £100,000 to a man in Milton Keynes.
The group used Blackberry encrypted mobile phones and secret compartments in vehicles to launder cash and supply Class A and B drugs around the country, stretching from Scotland to London.
At Stafford Crown Court this week 11 men and two women were sentenced to a total of more than 40 years for the parts they played in one of the illicit operations.
Enquiries into this group began in January 2014, when Nottinghamshire Police flagged-up Christopher Turton and Dale Wright to serious and organised crime specialists at EMSOU.
According to Detective Inspector Andy Jones, of EMSOU, “This was a sophisticated and well-organised crime group which utilised encrypted mobile phones, vehicle concealments and unregulated and untraceable cash transfers.
“Turton and Wright were pivotal in this network, organising and arranging the supply of drugs and the transfer of huge amounts of cash on behalf of an international organised crime group. I cannot emphasise enough that the street value of the seized drugs is exponentially more than what we have valued them at in the prosecution case”
Over eight months detectives evidenced cocaine, amphetamine and cash being moved around the East Midlands, north to Manchester, through to Scotland, south to Warwickshire and Birmingham, and on to Milton Keynes, Banbury and London.”
In order to physically transfer their drugs and cash, Turton and Durant arranged for three specialists, a Brazilian and two Spaniards, to be flown in from the continent to adapt a number of vehicles. These secret compartments were so well hidden, they were only detectable by X-ray.
Rob Hickinbottom, regional commander of the National Crime Agency added: “Dawes was extradited to France in connection with the seizure of 1.3 tonnes of cocaine hidden in suitcases on an Air France flight, and we are continuing to support the French authorities ahead of his trial.”
The proceedings of that trial in Paris will be very interesting.
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.
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.
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.
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.
ON Tuesday, in a burnt out Volkswagen Caddy, police found the body of a 23-year-old young mechanic in a quiet residential area of Amsterdam. His head was missing. The following morning, the city had a gruesome awakening when the head of Nabil Amzieb was found placed outside a nightspot called Fayrouz which was sometimes frequented by Dutch-Moroccan gangsters. The severed head was pointing towards the window of the Shisha bar, as if looking in. It was clearly a message from the underworld.
Police believe that the horror find is connected to the ongoing war which erupted more than three years ago in Amsterdam between two Dutch-Moroccan gangs involved in the cocaine trade.
The victim is believed to have been linked to a group led by 31-year-old Benaouf Adaoui, currently in prison, who has been at war with a group led by Gwenette Martha who was assassinated in May 2014. Adaoui’s group were known to frequent the Fayrouz bar and thought to have planned some of their liquidations from confines of the venue. Some media reports have suggested that the 23-year-old victim had been planning to give evidence in a forthcoming case connected to the recent liquidations.
The authorities had recently spoken of hopes, that an end to the wave of liquidations plaguing Amsterdam – and further afield in Spain and Belgium – was in sight. It has sadly proved to be a pipe dream.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
ORGANISED crime boss Robert Dawes has been arrested again following a warrant issued by the French authorities.
This week officers from the elite organised crime unit of Guardia Civil based in Madrid arrested the 43-year-old Nottinghamshire man and searched his villa in Benalmadena, Mijas Costa.
It is unclear yet what the specific charges relate to and what other arrests have been made, but the request has come from a court in France which is believed to be investigating a large-scale drugs shipment which came through its borders.
The operation involved the co-operation of the National Crime Agency in the UK and their French counterparts OCRTIS.
A spokesman for the National Crime Agency said: “Robert Dawes was arrested in connection with international drug trafficking as part of a joint investigation between the French OCRTIS, the NCA and the Guardia Civil.”
I have previously written at length about the bureaucratic bungles and corruption issues which have resulted in Dawes thwarting the authorities efforts to make charges stick against this “Teflon Don“.
Indeed a Spanish investigation into a 200 kilo shipment of cocaine linked to Dawes, fell apart after vital evidence including mobile phone sim cards and computer data seized in Dubai, which should have been presented to the Spanish judge Jose Santiago Torres, was handed back to Dawes’ wife via Spanish police officers. That loss of evidence, mistaken or consciously planned, alongside a lengthy delay from the British authorities to submit their own evidence, has been blamed for Dawes release from custody four years ago. The combination effectively ended the case against him in 2012. Dawes – who has ready access to a number of false passports – is known to have the ability and funds to corrupt police officers and key components of the justice system, according to those who have investigated him in law enforcement.
Now three years on the Daily Mail reports that Dawes is once again in custody in Madrid this time to await an extradition hearing which could take him to a cell in France. However the case will be watched closely by the authorities in Netherlands and the UK. Dawes was named as the man who ordered the murder of innocent Dutch school teacher Gerard Meesters in November 2002. At the time of the court case, which saw the cartel’s footsoldier Daniel Sowerby jailed for life, the Dutch authorities lacked a final piece of evidence to charge Dawes with ordering the murder. In the UK, aside from the overwhelming prima facie evidence linking him to shipments of class A drugs here, British authorities still regard Dawes as a “person of interest” linked to the October 2002 assassination of Nottinghamshire businessman David Draycott.
We shall, of course, follow the merry-go-round of developments with great interest.
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.
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.
By Carl Fellstrom, Tom Worden and David Connett
A top-secret surveillance operation monitored gunned-down timeshare fraudster John “Goldfinger” Palmer for at least eight years up until his death two weeks ago, it can be revealed.
The British operation, which drew upon listening devices placed by Spanish law enforcement, amassed a treasure trove of intelligence on organised crime figures from at least 2007. Fears about the operation being compromised by corrupt police officers resulted in it being established at a remote RAF base in the north of England.
A four-man team, some of whom retired during the course of the operation but were kept on for operational and secrecy reasons, was fed a daily diet of information about Palmer’s meetings and associations as he flitted around the globe and between Britain, Tenerife and mainland Spain.
Essex detectives investigating Palmer’s killing have requested help from the Spanish authorities about possible motives and suspects. It can also be revealed that Palmer, found dead in the garden of his Essex home in June, was shot in the chest and leg by a low-calibre weapon firing ammunition designed to cause maximum fragmentation inside the target.
The assassin had cut a hole out of a panel in the fence that surrounded the dead man’s secluded garden. Police have removed the panel for further examination.
The surveillance operation was based at an unlisted office within RAF Spadeadam, on the borders of Cumbria and Northumberland. The intelligence gleaned from the surveillance of Palmer and his associates led to a myriad of other operations being set up.
They picked up Palmer doing business with crime bosses from the UK, Russia, Romania and Spain, and created an intelligence file that read like a who’s who of organised crime, according to sources.
One former intelligence source with the Serious Organised Crime Agency, forerunner to the National Crime Agency, said: “They were being fed intelligence by the Spanish including phone calls and other surveillance material. It was kept as quiet as possible because of fears about corruption issues within British law enforcement, and legal issues surrounding the operation’s involvement with the Spanish and the obtaining of intelligence from those bugs.”
Palmer was charged with money laundering and fraud in Tenerife in May and was on bail. He was reputedly worth £300m, but investigators believe that figure was greatly exaggerated. In May 2005 he was declared bankrupt and all his assets, including seven timeshare resorts, were taken over by a trustee in bankruptcy. British police believe a number of his assets were taken over by the Adams family, the north London crime gang.
Spanish investigators tracking down Palmer’s assets found he owned a complex network of 122 companies, many offshore in the Isle of Man, Madeira and the British Virgin Islands, as well as 60 offshore bank accounts. The accounts were seized and the timeshare resorts were sold off for approximately £30m, mostly to Russian investors.
Palmer was sued in a group action by many of his thousands of victims and was ordered to repay them £4m.However, Spain’s tax authority seized the bulk of the money raised from the asset sales, leaving his victims with little prospect of recovering their money. He also spent around £5m in legal fees.
A source on the financial investigation estimated the criminal’s fortune to be nearer to £50m. The source said: “Palmer said he blew a huge amount of money in the 1990s on cocaine and girlfriends. He had a massive cocaine habit and the lifestyle to go with it – the private jet, the yacht, the Ferraris.
“He had four or five girlfriends at any one time, and would fly around the world on his private jet, to Barbados, Russia, the US, Germany, France, Switzerland. He also said he spent a fortune paying off judges, police officers and politicians in Tenerife.
“He said he once flew a private jet back from Russia full of cash. He was stopped at Madrid airport and bribed a policeman with a suitcase full of cash to turn a blind eye. Palmer had millions coming in in cash but blew millions at the same time. He used the 60 offshore accounts like personal bank accounts. His finances were complete chaos. So much of his business was done in cash, there was always a mountain of cash lying around in his Tenerife office. Literally stuffed in suitcases or lying around the office. He never paid tax and thought he would get away with it by bribing officials.”
Palmer’s yacht – Brave Goose of Essex – seized by a Spanish court in 2001, is worth much less than its reputed £1m value. An expert valued it at £400,000 but said it would cost £250,000 to make it seaworthy. “If you untied it from the dock it would sink,” the source said. Palmer’s collection of classic cars from the 1940s and 1950s, worth around £500,000, was allowed to corrode in the sea air in a Tenerife pound.
While Palmer was declared bankrupt and was officially broke, his partner Christina Ketley, who he met when she worked for him as a timeshare rep in the 1980s, was not. The house in South Weald, Essex, is in her name as is a two-storey flat overlooking the sea in south Tenerife. Ms Ketley, 55, is a director of seven companies in Spain and five in the UK. Prosecutors recently tried, but failed, to have her assets frozen.
She is facing fraud and money-laundering charges in Spain, and could be jailed for up to eight years if convicted. Last week prosecutors said they expect the case against her and nine others, including two of Palmer’s nephews, to go ahead at Madrid’s National Court.
Prosecutors alleged Ms Ketley ran Palmer’s business while he was jailed in the UK (he was sentenced to eight years for fraud in 2001, serving four). Sources close to Palmer insist he had no intention of pleading guilty to charges in Spain and a senior prosecution source described suggestions of a plea bargain as “pure fantasy”.
A defence source said Palmer vigorously denied the charges and had no intention of pleading guilty. He was due to fly to Madrid for a defence strategy when he was murdered.
The source said: “John Palmer was not a grass and he had no intention of becoming one. We believed there was every chance the case against him would have been thrown out.”
Before his death, friends say he was helping Ms Ketley run her Tenerife restaurant. He had his bail varied to return to Britain for surgery.
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