Dubai catches France’s most prolific drug kingpin after 10-year manhunt

Most wanted Moufide 'Mouf' Bouchibi faces extradition where he has been sentenced to 20 years

French drug lord Moufide ‘Mouf’ Bouchibi was arrested in Dubai last week after evading justice for ten years.  Pawan Singh / The National
French drug lord Moufide ‘Mouf’ Bouchibi was arrested in Dubai last week after evading justice for ten years.  Pawan Singh / The National

A French drug dealer who became an international kingpin known as “the ghost” was arrested this week in Dubai travelling under a false identity after 10 years on the run.

Moufide “Mouf” Bouchibi, 41, eluded French detectives for more than a decade and rose through the narcotics ranks from a Parisian street dealer to a global trafficker, importing 60 tonnes of cannabis to Europe every year, pocketing annual takings of €70 million ($82.6m).

The drug lord was thought to have fled to Morocco in 2012, then to Algeria, and a 2019 sighting placed him in Tunisia, but the trail went cold until a call at the weekend put him more than 4,000km away in Dubai.

Moufide 'Mouf' Bouchibi was arrested in Dubai after spending a decade evading capture by authorities. Courtesy, Dubai Police
Moufide 'Mouf' Bouchibi was arrested in Dubai after spending a decade evading capture by authorities. Courtesy, Dubai Police

'We have the Mouf'

Dubai police arrested a man travelling under a false identity who they believed to be the elusive Parisian, but because French detectives had only a photo of him from more than 20 years ago it took days for officers to confirm they had their man.

Using fingerprints obtained from Interpol, Dubai Police were able to give their French counterparts the news they had been waiting more than a decade to hear: “We have the Mouf.”

France is seeking to extradite Bouchibi, who faces a 20-year prison sentence in French jails for trafficking, which was handed down in 2015 in his absence.

Bouchibi served his first sentence for drugs in 2002, after an unsuccessful prison break from a van taking him to hospital.

He moved to Spain in 2008 and is alleged to have continued building his criminal empire with fellow convicted cannabis baron Sophiane Hambli, who later became a police informant.

It is understood the pair fell out and a torrid drugs war commenced, which at one point in 2009 led to Bouchibi being kidnapped in Morocco, tortured and held for ransom.

Close calls

The police came close to arresting the kingpin in Morocco in 2012 but he escaped and a few years later they prosecuted him in his absence.

Despite years on Interpol’s most wanted list, it was Dubai's police who finally helped to capture him.

According to reports in Paris he is the "cherry on the cake" for the French who have been working closely with officers in Dubai to apprehend a number of suspected dealers.

Last month, Hakim Berrebouh, 40, known as "the wild boar", was arrested by police in Dubai.

He had been on the run for seven years and is believed to have been one of the major drug kingpins in the Marseille region.

It followed the arrest of Reda Abakrim, known as "Turbo", who was arrested at an airport in Casablanca, Morocco, in December after leaving Dubai on a false passport.

Abakrim, 38, was convicted of murder last June in France, in his absence, and faces a 21-year prison sentence.

He had been on the run since 2007 and is suspected of being the head of a major drugs network transporting large quantities of cannabis from Morocco and Spain to France.

Updated: March 25, 2021 04:12 PM

SHARE

EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS
Sign up to:

* Please select one

Most Read