18:22 GMT +321 September 2019
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    Package of cocaine

    British 'Drug Lord' Denies Smuggling More Than a Ton of Cocaine Into France

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    A man alleged to be one of Europe's biggest drug traffickers has gone on trial accused of smuggling 1.3 tons of cocaine into France. Robert Dawes, from Nottingham, is alleged to have been working in partnership with the Neapolitan mafia.

    Dawes, 46, has gone on trial in Paris along with two other Britons — Nathan Wheat and Kane Price — and three Italians, who are said to be linked to one of the Camorra clans in Naples.

    Dawes — nicknamed "Drug Lord" or "The General" — was arrested in November 2015 at a luxury resort in Benalmadena on Spain's Costa del Sol after police intercepted a conversation in which he allegedly said the huge consignment of cocaine, with a street value of 240 million euros (US$275 million) belonged to him.

    ​The drugs, packed into 30 suitcases, was discovered in 2013 on an Air France plane which flew from Venezuela to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.

    Venezuelan police arrested 25 people, including members of the military and an Air France manager after the interior minister admitted the suitcases had gone through security scanners in Caracas which had showed the presence of drugs.

    'The Pimpernel' Was Original Target

    On the second day of the trial, on Tuesday, December 11, the court heard that police were actually searching for intelligence on Mickey Green, a British fugitive known as "The Pimpernel", when they came across Dawes' alleged admissions.

    Green is believed to be living in hiding in Spain.

    Dawes — whose brother John and father Arthur were jailed for drug smuggling in the UK in 2005 after detectives launched Operation Normality — was extradited from Spain to France and went on trial on Monday, December 10.

    ​He faces up to 30 years in prison and a 7.5 million euro fine if convicted.

    Three of his co-accused are from the Amato-Pagano clan, sometimes known as the Secessionists of Secondigliano, a powerful Camorra clan in Naples.

    In his book about Nottingham gangsters, Hoods, author Carl Fellstrom said the "Dawes Cartel….was a ruthless, calculating gang" which was on a par with the city's notorious "Bestwood Cartel", whose main leaders — Colin and David Gunn — were jailed in 2007 after an innocent couple were murdered in cold-blooded revenge.

    Fellstrom pointed out that in October 2002 David Draycott was shot dead in Nottinghamshire over a debt he owed to the Gunns and the Dawes Cartel.

    Spanish police said at the time of his arrest Rob Dawes "headed up the biggest criminal organisation in Britain and Europe devoted to drug trafficking, money laundering and murder."

    Spanish police claimed Dawes imported furniture from China and fruit from South America but hid large quantities of cocaine and heroin inside the containers.

    Dawes Cartel Linked to Deaths in Holland

    Dawes' name has been linked to a series of murders in the Netherlands in 2014 and 2015, which were allegedly linked to a war over the cocaine trade.

    The trial, which is expected to finish before Christmas, is expected to hear Dawes met Colombian and Italian criminal associates at a hotel in Madrid.

    [Tweet: "Is the source in Venezuela?" repeatedly asks Madame Hugues Vigier, one of Robert Dawes's lawyers. "Nothing more to say. I do not want to participate in the identification of sources," says François Thierry."] 

    He also reportedly dealt with Italy's secretive 'Ndrangheta mafia, which is based in Calabria.

    Dawes's right-hand man, a Dutchman called Emiel Brummer, was arrested in Spain in 2016 and extradited to the Netherlands.

    Key to the trial could be the evidence of François Thierry, the former head of the French agency OC, who was arrested last year and accused of complicity in drug smuggling. He has denied the accusations but remains under investigation.

    Mr Thierry is expected to be cross examined by Dawes' lawyers about his methods and his motives.

    Tags:
    arrested, smuggling, cocaine, drugs, Air France, Nottingham, Paris, Venezuela, France
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