Brit Arrested, Believed to Have Directed Heathrow Gold Theft

MADRID, Spain -- Spanish police arrested a wealthy 57-year old British man on the Canary Islands Thursday accused of swindling tourists, drugs and weapons trafficking, officials said.

A police statement accused John Edward Palmer, from central England, of heading an international criminal organization responsible for various crimes including falsifying documents like passports and credit cards, bribing public officials, and assault.

Palmer, who had been living in Spain since 1985, was arrested on Thursday morning at the airport on the Canary Island of Tenerife off west Africa.

British police have accused Palmer of organizing an armed robbery of 3,000 kilograms (6,000 pounds) of gold at London Heathrow Airport in 1983, the statement read.

In Spain he is accused of using his real estate assets in Tenerife and along the touristic Costa del Sol region in southern Spain in an elaborate time-sharing scheme to defraud tourists.

The statement also said that he was imprisoned at least once in England in 2001 for fraudulent time-share deals that swindled 20,000 tourists from various European countries.

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