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Police swoop in on British drug kingpin in luxury Costa del Sol villa

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Police swoop in on British drug kingpin in luxury Costa del Sol villa
Photo: Guardia Civil / Ministerio Interior
14:31 CET+01:00
Spanish police have released a video showing the detention of one of Europe's most wanted drug lords in his luxury villa on the Costa del Sol.

Briton Robert Dawes was detained on November 12th in a dawn raid coordinated by the EU's law enforcement agency Europol on his home in the southern resort of Benalmadena, where he lived with his family and bodyguards, the Guardia Civil police force said.

The 44-year-old "headed up the biggest criminal organisation in Britain and Europe devoted to drug trafficking, money laundering and murder," the police said in a statement.

According to the Guardia Civil, Dawes would regularly meet up with representatives of South American criminal organisations in luxury hotels in Madrid, such as the Medellin Cartel once headed up by Colombia's notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar.


Photo: Guardia Civil / Ministerio Interior

From his base in the southern region of Andalucia, he would import "furniture from China and fruit containers from South America which he would fill with large quantities of cocaine."

His cartel also trafficked heroine from Turkey and Afghanistan to Britain, police said.

Dawes is also being probed in The Netherlands over a wave of murders there in 2014 and 2015, allegedly aimed at taking control of the traffic of cocaine in several European countries, they added.

The video shows armed police storming the villa in a dawn raid where they seizing guns, computers and cash. It also shows large drug shipments.


Photo: Guardia Civil / Ministerio Interior

Dubbed Operation Halbet IV, a group of policemen from several countries was formed to probe his sprawling criminal empire, which had connections from Portugal, France, and Belgium to Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Venezuela and Mexico.

It also bought large amounts of drugs from Italy's secretive 'Ndrangheta mafia, which is thought to run much of Europe's cocaine trade from its homeland of Calabria.

Police also announced on Friday that they had dismantled a drug gang responsible for running an industrial-sized drug production lab in Spain, arresting 11 people including six Brits.

An international multi-agency operation has led to the seizure of 1.5 tonnes of cocaine and arrests in Spain, the UK and Dubai.

The gang had smuggled the drugs disguised as sacks of charcoal and wooden pallets in a container into the port of Valencia.

But forensic examination found that the pallets were made of compressed cocaine powder made to look like wood, and some of the sacks contained cocaine disguised as charcoal, according to a statement from the UK's National Crime Agency.


Cocaine disguised as coal in a sack seized in Valencia. Photo: NCA

Greg McKenna,the Regional Head of Investigations for the NCA, said: "We believe the company was a front for a industrial-sized lab where cocaine was extracted from pallets and charcoal, processed and repackaged for onward distribution across Europe.

"This seizure of cocaine, the shutting down of the lab and the eleven arrests will have disrupted criminal activity across the whole of Europe."

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