French drug boss jailed for 20 years in Morocco

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A Moroccan court has sentenced a French drug boss to 20 years in prison on a string of narcotics charges, a court official said Friday.

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Sofiane Hambli had skipped bail in France in March last year while on trial over an alleged cannabis shipment, but he was re-arrested in October in a Morocco hospital where he was being treated for a face injury.

The 46-year-old is believed to be one of the biggest importers of cannabis to France and has a long criminal record and a history of escaping from detention.

On Friday, a court official confirmed reports by news site Hespress that a Rabat court had sentenced Hambli, who is of Algerian origin, to 20 years in prison without the possibility of parole.

The charges included “international drug trafficking,” “money laundering” and “forcible detention” in Morocco, the official told AFP.

Hespress said he was jailed in a prison near Rabat “under high security.”

Hambli remains wanted in France on further charges of importing tons of cannabis, but Moroccan authorities have refused to extradite him, according to Moroccan media.

Hambli had been the target of an Interpol red notice last year on the request of the French authorities, after he failed to show up for a hearing on accusations he had organized the import of four tons of cannabis.

The Parisien newspaper reported at the time that he made €2.5 million (then $2.8 million) from the transaction, accusations denied by his lawyer Hugues Vigier.

Hambli is also known to have been an informant for France’s anti-narcotics police and was involved in the import of seven tons of cannabis in a 2015 operation.

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