Nottingham

Robert Dawes: Drugs 'kingpin' jailed for 22 years

Robert Dawes Image copyright Guardia Civil
Image caption Robert Dawes was under surveillance by Spain's Guardia Civil for months after the drugs were found

A British petty criminal who became an "international drugs kingpin" has been jailed for 22 years.

Robert Dawes, 46, from Nottinghamshire, was arrested in Spain in 2015 for trafficking 1.3 tonnes of cocaine into Europe.

A judge-only trial in Paris heard he used corrupt officials in Venezuela and supplied several criminal gangs.

Police said Dawes ran Europe's largest crime group involved in "trafficking, money laundering and murder".

Image copyright Guardia Civil
Image caption Robert Dawes was arrested after a raid by Spanish police on his home

The court heard the drugs - packed into 30 suitcases - were seized on a flight from South America to Paris in 2013.

The National Crime Agency said he was a global "big fish", who brokered deals with the Italian mafia and Colombian cartels.

Dawes lived in luxury villa on the Costa del Sol, where he was eventually arrested.

Image copyright Guardia Civil
Image caption Guns, cash and encrypted mobile phones were seized when Dawes villa was raided

Guns, cash and encrypted mobile phones were seized from the property.

The court previously heard he started as a small-time criminal in Sutton-in-Ashfield and was first convicted of a crime aged 11.

Dawes denied all charges, saying a conversation where he was recorded talking about drug shipments was a ploy to get himself arrested to end "heavy-handed surveillance" by Spanish police.

Before the verdict Dawes was laughing and smiling, even miming hanging himself to his lawyer as he entered the dock.

Image copyright Guardia Civil
Image caption Police said Dawes used violence and intimidation to move "huge shipments" across borders

He was convicted of seven charges connected with drug trafficking and not guilty of one charge.

Matt Horne from the NCA said: "Robert Dawes and his organised crime group were feared by their criminal counterparts.

"They could broker deals between the biggest groups and were trusted to move huge shipments.

"He was a drugs kingpin who had an impact across the UK."

Of two other Britons on trial, Nathan Wheat was convicted of six charges and jailed for 13 years, while Kane Price was acquitted.

Three Italians were also convicted.

Dawes will have his properties confiscated and the defendants were told they faced a 30m euro fine, but the details of this have not been released.

Dawes's lawyers have indicated he will appeal.

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