Kingpin of international drugs gang ruled by fear

SUTTON man John Dawes has been described by police as a ruthless drug dealer who was incredibly dangerous.

Based in Ashfield, he was the UK's kingpin in a far-reaching international drugs network that had links in Holland and Spain, where his brother Robert lives.

Dawes never got his hands dirty with drugs himself — but ran the operation from his house on Tudor Street and ruled through his reputation for violence.

His insidious, spider-like influence spread across Sutton, Kirkby and the wider Nottinghamshire area.

He had no previous convictions for drug dealing, but the evidence in court told how John Dawes would act as puppet-master — pulling the strings for the whole operation in the UK.

He protected himself by keeping everything at arms length, creating several levels in the organisation. The drugs that were imported were sold to subordinate gang members, who then sold them to street dealers, who sold them to local addicts.

And Dawes was so arrogant that he used to boast he had influence over local organisations, including the police, the local authority and social services.

But police officers say it was this arrogance and his quest for power that led to his ultimate downfall.

At one stage he even offered a job to a policeman who was working as his liaison officer in the aftermath of the David Draycott murder because they were concerned he could also be a potential assassination target.

Det Insp Pete Jones, who led the investigation, told Chad: "That is why people who had information were nervous about passing it to these agencies — because they were concerned that information may get back to John Dawes.

"He will feel that he had got police officers that were working for him."

But he was very wrong and an angry Det Insp Jones told Chad: "I only work for the Nottinghamshire Chief Constable."

There were also links with two 'major league' drug traffickers from Sutton — Jonathan Guest and Ian Butler — who were both jailed for a total of 22 years in January 2002.

Detectives, however, always suspected Dawes was the man behind the operation, even if they did not have enough proof to go after him at that time.

Guest and Butler were caught after a huge undercover operation recovered 2m of amphetamines, heroin and cannabis.

The drugs were discovered in an industrial unit in Colwick, near Nottingham, and buried in Woodland Hides near Sutton Parkway train station, together with a sawn-off shotgun and ammunition.

Witnesses in John Dawes' case linked him and Ryan Smith to the same Colwick industrial unit which was the processing plant and distribution centre for the entire gang.

And when Guest, of Clare Road, was caged for 14 years he admitted that he was quite high in a drugs organisation — but said there were people way above him.

Police always believed this was John Dawes and pursued their investigations until they finally had enough evidence to put him away.