In the early hours of November 12, a group of Guardia Civil officers smashed in the door of the Benalmadena mansion where Robert Dawes and his family were sleeping.
Unaware of the gravity of his situation he reportedly said “I don’t know why you didn’t knock; I would have let you in.” The British man, considered by Interpol to be the head of the most important drug trafficking group in Europe, had been caught.
Dawes, 44, from Nottingham, did not resist arrest. He wasn’t even nervous, the Guardia Civil believe that; because at that stage, he had no idea as to the amount of evidence they had against him.
Secretly, The Central Operations Unit’s Drugs Group had been gathering evidence against him since 2007. The last phase of the operation, ‘Halbert IV,’ began in 2012.
Over this period, the authorities learned that Dawes was the shadowy and abstract boss, the person who pulled the strings from the darkness. “We don’t know his nickname; nobody ever named him over the phone. We knew he was being talked about but they never revealed his identity,” officers reported.
During searches, it became obvious why. Dawes was obsessed with his security. At the mattress shop (his cover-up business) 30 different encrypted phones were found and another 15 at his Benalmadena home. Dawes lived in a mansion with a jacuzzi and a spectacular gym full of TVs, and strangely (the officers noticed) he had a number of paper shredders in his bedroom.
Investigators place Dawes at the head of a group with tentacles all over the world. According to the Guardia Civil, he was considered on a worldwide level as the main drug trafficker in Europe with connections in Portugal, France, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Germany, Turkey, UK, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Venezuela, Ecuador and Mexico. He was also linked to the Ndrangheta mafia, who were allegedly big clients of his.
During the investigations officers noted that Dawes met up every so often with representatives from south American drug cartels including Medellin or Los Soles at luxury hotels in Madrid to close deals. The Guardia Civil believes he brought large amounts of cocaine into Europe from South America, and moved heroin from Turkey and Afghanistan to the UK.
Over recent years the authorities had dealt Dawes’ organisation a number of blows. In September 2013 the French police confiscated 32 suitcases containing 1,332 kilos of cocaine at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and arrested three members of his group and three mafia members, according to the Guardia Civil.
This later led to the Venezuelan police arresting 27 people in Caracas including various members of the military involved in loading the drugs onto the Air France plane.
Due to the global structure of the group the authorities decided to carry out joint operations with police from various countries led by the Guardia Civil.
During the investigations there were 15 operations in Europe and South American which led to 50 arrests in total and confiscation of 1,700 kilos of cocaine, 500 of hashish, €1.6 million in cash, yachts and aircraft.