John Palmer murder: Did notorious drug cartel order murder of ‘Goldfinger’?

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POLICE are investigating claims an international drugs cartel was behind the assassination of gangster John “Goldfinger” Palmer.

Essex Police is taking seriously an allegation that the gang arranged for a hitman to shoot Palmer, 64, in his garden on behalf of one of his former associates. The Sunday Express has been given the name of the alleged gunman, the former associate and the cartel. But we are not naming them as investigations continue. A source said: “The cartel got it done for [former Palmer associate’s name removed]. 

“[Name removed] shot Palmer but it was arranged by the cartel.” 

The source said it was “common knowledge” among underworld circles that the cartel, which originated in Ireland, has alleged gang members in countries including the UK, Spain, the Netherlands and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, but none of them has been arrested. 

When the allegation was put to Essex Police, to see if it was aware of the claims, it expressed significant interest. 

A spokesman said: “We are considering all the information shared with us and will follow up any new lines of inquiry.” Police said the allegations were of interest because of links in Dubai that it was already aware of between the cartel and a person of interest to the murder. 

The force has also been in contact with the National Crime Agency, which is assisting in the inquiry. 

In July 2018, Palmer’s partner Christina Ket­­ley, 59, put up a £100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction. The cartel is now being investigated globally by several law enforcement agencies. 

Essex Police still believes Palmer’s murder at his home in South Weald, Brentwood, was linked to a fraud trial which took place in Spain in January, in connection with his timeshare empire on Tenerife. 

Palmer’s death came weeks after several people, including him, were charged by Spanish prosecutors. 

There were suspicions among the criminal underworld after he was charged with the offences that he may have been about to turn “supergrass”. 

On day one of the trial, millionaire Moroccan nightclub owner Marco Yaqout, 49 – one of Palmer’s former close associates in the timeshare scam – was shot dead outside his home in Marbella. 

He owned the Tibu nightclub, popular with the cast of ITV’s reality show The Only Way Is Essex, and was known to associate with its stars. 

It is not yet known if his murder was linked to the Palmer case, an escalating drugs turf war in Marbella or the cartel. 

Since his death, it emerged that he had been laundering money on behalf of the cartel. 

Palmer, who got his Goldfinger nickname after being acquitted of smelting gold bars stolen in the notorious 1983 Brink’s-Mat robbery, was killed on June 24, 2015. 

His killer stalked him through a small hole made in a garden fence before jumping over and firing six bullets from a silenced revolver. The area of the garden was not covered by CCTV. 

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