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After 13 years on the run, French-Moroccan drug lord «Turbo» arrested in Casablanca

In 2010, his name was mentioned in an investigation into the assassination three years earlier of one of his aides. Since then, Reda Abakrim has disappeared into the wild, living under false identities. But his run ended with his last attempt to return to Morocco.

Reda Abakrim, 38, was sentenced last summer to 21 years in prison, after being defended by Eric Dupond Moretti / DR
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Moroccan drug trafficker Reda Abakrim, known as «Turbo», was arrested on December 22, 2020 at Mohammed V airport in Casablanca, coming from Dubai. Known as one of the two greatest cannabis barons operating between Morocco and France, this 38-year-old man from the Yvelines department has been actively sought by the Anti-Drug Office (OFAST). He is convicted of murder and suspected of kidnappings, among others.

Upon his arrival in Casablanca, his fingerprints check put a border police officer on alert. The latter discovered that the French-Moroccan «had several false passports and that he was wanted for murder by Interpol and the Versailles Court of Appeal», revealed Le Parisien on Friday, January 8.

The media recalls that «Turbo» was behind the execution of a member of his network in Poissy, France, in 2007. The victim is 26-year-old Brahim Hajaji, killed in the city of La Coudraie in the Yvelines department with the help of two accomplices. He is rumored to have stolen 500 to 600 kg of cannabis from his boss, with a street market value estimated at four million euros.

Tried in absentia in France

«For what amounts to a settling of scores between traffickers», Abakrim was sentenced in absentia, in June 2020, to 21 years of criminal imprisonment. During the trial, his lawyer Eric Dupond-Moretti, currently Minister of Justice, pleaded for his acquittal. According to him, the person who gave names to the police in 2010 would be unreliable. The testimony would have provided, according to the defendant's lawyer, insufficient evidence to establish the effective responsibility of «Turbo» in the assassination.

After Hajaji's murder, Reda Abakrim was nowhere to be found, but would have continued to manage his activities between Morocco and France under false identities. He drove rapid convoys of drugs in «go fasts», managing to cover the tracks to transport from 250 to 500 kg of cannabis per shipment, hence his nickname «Turbo».

During a police raid in Belgium, the drug trafficker would have previously managed to escape after the arrest of two of his accomplices. On the run since then, he ended up finding refuge in his highly guarded villa in Morocco, while continuing his business. He later moved to Dubai, which was also the last refuge for trafficker Ridouan Taghi before his arrest in December 2019.

While he managed to avoid being sentenced for proven drug trafficking, Abakrim has an extensive criminal record, which would have started at the age of 12 «for arsony, then theft, acts of violence, threats and extortion...». In 2003, he was suspected of having ordered the kidnapping of a 9-year-old child. The little girl was «kept hostage for several days» before she was released by the police. Her father was indebted to Turbo.

Today, the question of the extradition of the French-Moroccan to France arises. The Hajaji family continues to demand his appearance before the court, especially since he is under an arrest warrant. But officially, Reda Abakrim was arrested in Morocco for the use of a false passport and not for the facts alleged by the French justice.

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