French court seeks extradition of top drug dealer from United Arab Emirates
A Bordeaux court is seeking the extradition of convicted drug baron Moufide Bouchibi from Dubai, where he was arrested on 21 March after many years on the run from the law. He is thought to have not set foot in France in more than a decade.
A request for the extradition of Bouchibi will be sent to the United Arab Emirates so that he can face judges in France, prosecutors in Bordeaux told Franceinfo television on Tuesday.
Bouchibi, a French national, is suspected of being one of the largest importers of cannabis to France. His arrest in Dubai last week came at the behest of an international arrest warrant issued by Bordeaux officials.
Magazine Le Nouvel Obs said Bouchibi was travelling in Dubai under a false identity and was arrested with another French drug trafficker.
French legal authorities have been seeking him since linking him to a smuggling network identified in 2011.
Bouchibi was sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison in 2015 for drug trafficking in southwest France in a case involving him and 14 other suspected members of an elaborate cannabis importing ring.
He was also issued a million-euro fine following a conviction on charges related to drug smuggling and organised crime.
The conviction may be overturned in the presence of the accused, with the case subject to a new hearing.
From petty criminal to drug baron
French media covering the case describe Bouchibi, who is thought to be 40 or 41 years old, as the country’s top drug trafficker.
He grew up in the Paris region and the eastern Alsace region, where he racked up his first petty crime convictions in the late 1990s. He was involved in international drug trafficking by the early 2000s and spent about six years in jail following an arrest in 2002.
Following his release in 2008, he was based in Spain and Morocco. He is not known to have set foot in France since 2009.
Police believe he built a vast smuggling empire in 2010, moving up to 50 tonnes of cannabis every year in an operation making some 70 million euros per year in illegal activities alone.
He is thought to have reinvested millions of euros’ worth of profits in real estate in Casablanca, Tangier, Marrakech and other cities.
Police tracked him down to a Marrakech residence in 2012, but he narrowly avoided arrest. He also dodged a second attempted arrest in Tunisia in 2019.
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