Briton thought to be one of Europe’s biggest drug barons goes on trial

Briton believed to be one of Europe’s biggest drug traffickers goes on trial in Paris accused of importing cocaine worth £216million into France

  • Robert Dawes, now 46, was arrested in 2015 accused of smuggling cocaine
  • 1.3tons of the drug was found stuffed inside 30 suitcases on an Air France flight 
  • He allegedly ran drug empire with links to eight countries, the Mafia and cartels  
  • Dawes, from Nottinghamshire but arrested in Spain, is facing 30 years in jail

A British man accused of being one of Europe’s biggest drug traffickers went on trial on Monday accused of smuggling 1.3 tons of cocaine into France.   

The drugs, stuffed in 30 unregistered suitcases, were discovered in 2013 after an Air France plane arrived at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport from Caracas.

Robert Dawes, now 46, was arrested in November 2015 at his luxury resort in Benalmadena, southern Spain, after police intercepted a conversation in which he reportedly claimed ownership of the cocaine, worth an estimated £216million at today’s prices.

Robert Dawes, now 46, was arrested in Spain in 2015 (pictured) before being extradited to France where he is now on trial for smuggling 1.3tons of cocaine

Extradited to France shortly after his arrest, Dawes is now on trial alongside two other Britons – Nathan Wheat,35 and Kane Price, 31 and three Italians with links to the Camorra crime syndicate.

The group risk up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to £6.8million each. Dawes denies the charges against him.

At the time of his arrest, Spanish police accused Dawes of ‘heading up the biggest criminal organisation in Britain and Europe devoted to drug trafficking, money laundering and murder.’ 

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The investigation linked him to the Italian mafia, South American cartels, and a murder spree that included killings in Holland and the UK. 

From his base in Andalucia, he is suspected of importing ‘furniture from China and fruit containers from South America which he would fill with cocaine’.

His cartel also shipped heroin from Turkey and Afghanistan to Britain, police said.

Dawes mainly used shipping containers to move the drugs around, but also lesiure boats and commercial flights such as the Air France one, they added.

He would allegedly meet regularly with representatives of South American crime empires, including the notorious Medellin cartel, at hotels in Madrid.

Dawes is accused of being one of the biggest drug dealers in Europe, running an empire that stretched across eight countries and dealt in cocaine, heroin, money laundering and murder

He is also accused of buying large amounts of drugs from Italy’s secretive ‘Ndrangheta mafia, which is thought to run much of Europe’s cocaine trade from Calabria.

Dawes’s alleged criminal empire stretched from Portugal, France and Belgium to Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Venezuela and Mexico.

His suspected right-hand man, Dutch citizen Emiel Brummer, was arrested in April 2016 on Spain’s Costa del Sol and extradited to the Netherlands.

Dawes’s trial is set to run until December 21. 

Father-of-three Dawes, who has associated with some of the UK’s most notorious crime syndicates including the London-based Adams family, is set to be in court until December 21.

Dawes grew up on the Leamington estate in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, and is thought to have begun his criminal career in the 1990s working as an enforcer.

He was described as a ‘highly significant international criminal wanted for murder in Holland and drug importation in the UK’ in documents written by the Serious Organised Crime Agency, which later became the UK’s National Crime Agency.

Dawes left Nottinghamshire for the Costa del Sol around nine years ago, moving to a villa in the resort of Benalmadena.

He later relocated to Dubai where he was arrested in 2008 for money laundering.

After serving his sentence, he was rearrested on an international warrant in April 2011 over the seizure of nearly 200kg of cocaine – then worth around £14 million – near Madrid in 2007 and extradited to Spain the following month.

Police in Madrid accused Dawes of using Spain as a ‘trampoline for trafficking drugs to several European countries’, mostly Britain, in a statement released at the time.


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