Dordogne drug raids linked to Premier League

Cocaine-stained cash was commission from football deals, says arrested driver

For the inhabitants of two sleepy Dordogne villages, the latest English arrivals must have seemed much like the other members of the Anglo-Saxon influx who have flooded into this most Anglicised corner of France for a slice of the Gallic good life.

Only when officers from France's elite judicial police raided the homes of three unobtrusive Britons in Augignac and Champniers et Reilhac, two villages barely 10 miles apart, residents realised they had been living side by side with the alleged ringleaders of an international drug-smuggling network with possible links to Premier League football transfers.

The French authorities confirmed yesterday that they were in the process of dismantling a suspected cocaine and money-laundering operation run by alleged British gangsters who had used the quiet image of ex-pats seeking the simple pleasures of rural France as a cover for their criminal activities.

Detectives involved in the joint investigation with British counterparts in the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (Soca) have arrested 10 Britons across France and believe the Dordogne served as the hub of a sophisticated smuggling network used to transport large quantities of money and cocaine from Spain through France and on to the United Kingdom.

The police operation began last May when customs officers stopped a Mercedes car with British number-plates on the motorway between Narbonne and Toulouse in south-west France. In a secret compartment behind the passenger seats police found €540,000 (£484,000) in used notes.

The 35-year-old British driver, named only as Stephen C, claimed the cash was the commission on transfer deals in the notoriously unregulated market for players in the English Premiership. Forensic tests found traces of cocaine on the cash. Police said cocaine and linked cash were being delivered to Britain from boats from Africa. Guy Sapata, the officer leading the investigation, said: "Those arrested have explained the cash as being commissions for acting in player transfers. Unfortunately, organised crime networks are involved in all kinds of activities, meaning there could be an overlap between drugs, money-laundering and big money transfers."

Interviews with Stephen C, who admitted 20 similar trips across Europe to deliver money to the UK, led detectives to focus on Augignac and Champniers-et-Reilhac, near Perigueux. Attracted by distinctive honey-coloured stone buildings and dramatic landscape, the inward flow of "les Anglo Saxons" has been so widespread that the region is referred to as "Dordogneshire".

The targets of the Anglo-French inquiry were found to be leading quietly ostentatious lives, allegedly laundering the proceeds of their drugs network by buying chateaux and villas across the Dordogne. In the Champniers-et-Reilhac home of the parents of one of the alleged ringleaders, named as Mark B, officers found a sky-blue Aston Martin DB9 and a Mercedes, also with a hidden compartment.

Mark B was arrested on 14 February in London on a European warrant as he checked into a private clinic. Two more suspects, named as Michael K and Sophie S, were arrested on 24 February in Augignac. Police found documents showing they owned a €175,000 villa and other property in France worth €325,000.

A French officer added: "The cars were typical of the kind of flash, luxury goods these suspects have been using. They had stacks of money and were regularly investing in land and luxury properties. They are also believed to have been investing in Cyprus. All those arrested are being questioned pending court appearances."

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Babysitter Katie and Paul have terse words in the park
tvReview: The strength of the writing keeps viewers glued to their seats even when they are confronted with the hard-hitting scenes
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Sport
England’s opening goalscorer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain battles with Scotland’s Charlie Mulgrew
FootballEngland must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Life and Style
Make-up artists prepare contestants for last year’s Miss World, held in Budapest
fashion
Sport
Wigan Athletic’s back-of-the shirt sponsor Premier Range has pulled out due to Malky Mackay’s arrival
Football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: FP&A Manager Supply Chain

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Argyll Scott is recruiting for a Permane...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property NQ+

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: COMMERCIAL PROPERTY SOLI...

Argyll Scott International: Retail Commercial Finance Analyst

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Due to further expansion, a leading inte...

Langley James : Senior Technician; Promotion & Training Opp; Borough; upto £32k

£27000 - £32000 per annum + training: Langley James : Senior Technician; Promo...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines