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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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
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.
March 16 2013: Rida Bennajem, 21, shot dead Amsterdam. Believed to be one of the hitmen involved in murder of Bouhbouh
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
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.
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.
DUTCH media were last night reporting the brutal death of yet another former associate of Robert Dawes.
The victim, who has yet to be formally identified, is believed to be Samir Bouyakhrichan, 36, known by the nickname “Scarface” within the Dutch underworld. He was gunned down around 1.50am yesterday (Thursday) by two assailants at the All in One bar in Monte Halcones, Benahavis in the mountains just four miles inland from the Marbella coastline.
Bouyakhrichan, who had real estate interests in the area through Albina Properties 2009 Sl, was apparently sat with a group of six associates when the two gunmen approached. As he attempted to flee his table the men opened fire. He was hit several times in the back before being shot in the head as he lay on the ground, according to eye witnesses.
“Scarface” was known to be a highly significant player in the Dutch-Moroccan mafia and had previously been arrested over the tragic shooting of 12-year-old Danny Gubbels in 2010 in Breda, Netherlands. Two other men, originally from Leeds, and another from Amsterdam, eventually stood trial for the killing. Leeds born 28-year-old, Tyrone Lando Gillard, is currently serving 16 years after being convicted of manslaughter alongside Dutchman Marcellino Fraser. Dutch investigators were unable to amass enough evidence to identify the five other gunmen or the men who ordered the shooting.
Samir Bouyakhrichan was, according to sources, involved in the Dutch cocaine and hashish trade at the highest level but also had business connections in Morocco, Spain and United Arab Emirates, according to sources. The motive for the murder remains unclear, yet clearly well-planned.
Just three days before the murder of Bouyakhrichan, Spanish police had also arrested and detained two men in the vicinity of the Benhavis crime scene, carrying firearms and silencers. It is not known if they were linked to an earlier plan to execute the Dutch-Moroccan national. A 63-year-old Spaniard and 32-year-old Lithuanian, who have extensive criminal records, remain in custody. Guardia Civil investigators have begun a nationwide hunt for the two gunmen who assassinated Scarface.
Investigators in Netherlands will be taking a keen interest in the Spanish murder investigation following a series of recent assassinations in Amsterdam including the death of notorious gangster, Gwenette Martha, in the city in May this year.
At least 13 murders and several failed attempted assassinations have now been linked to large shipments of cocaine being stolen by rival gangs and also intercepted by the authorities in the port of Antwerp. A brutal gang war between two rival Dutch based gangs has been waged over the thefts over the past two years resulting in a river of blood flowing through the Netherlands and beyond.
Martha had been involved with British gangster Robert Dawes as far back as 2002 when he was sent to deliver a phone number to Dutch school teacher Gerard Meesters demanding that he phone the number and tell the gangsters the whereabouts of his sister Janette, who the villains believed had stolen a huge load of hashish. Mr Meesters was shot dead at his home in Groningen four days later sparking a Dutch police investigation which led to Daniel Sowerby,a Dawes Cartel foot soldier, being jailed for life for the shooting.
Bouyakhrichan has previously been linked to the Dawes Cartel over a large cargo of cocaine which was stolen from Antwerp in 2010 leading to the tragic shooting of Danny Gubbels, some of whose family members were believed to be behind the theft. Two of the seven gunmen convicted, including Tyrone Gillard, 26 at the time and originally from Leeds, were sentenced to 16 years in prison.
“Scarface” had also been linked to £300 million worth of cocaine bound for Netherlands but seized in Southampton aboard the 65ft luxury cruiser Louise in June 2011, discovered after a tip off to the French authorities who informed the British authorities. It is the largest seizure of cocaine in the UK to date.
Around two years ago Bouyakhrichan reportedly moved himself and his young family to the safety of Dubai fearing the Netherlands had become a dangerous place for him to be, although he regularly travelled to Spain. There he invested in property and companies involved oil and fuel trade. In recent times his star had waned, according to sources, not least with fellow investors.
Some observers believe Scarface had made a number of enemies after a series of cocaine shipments, believed to be up to 12,000 kilos, failed to materialise or were intercepted by the authorities. One investment, which led to corrupt Belgian customs officer Tim Deelen being jailed for 14 years, was seized by authorities in 2012 in Anwterp weighed in at 8.5 tonnes of cocaine packed into bananas from Ecuador.