JDD INFORMATION. Two big names in the drug trade arrested in Spain and Dubai

11:33, 24 September 2022

Sailing between Morocco and the Costa del Sol, Gabin Feriolo avoided French justice for more than 10 years. Tariq Kerbuchi will be involved in the largest seizure of cocaine (more than 3.3 tons in Fos-sur-Mer in February 2020) ever made in metropolitan France. These two priority targets of the “top national” French drug traffickers wanted by the Ofast Drug Enforcement Administration were secretly arrested this summer. In Malaga, for someone who is suspected of a large turnover of cannabis resin. In Dubai, for someone who appears to be a top-notch international cocaine trafficker.

“El Mafioso Marseille”

“One of the last old-school Marseilles who managed to continue his business without being killed by a new generation from the surrounding area,” sums up a specialized police officer, mentioning the name Gabin Feriolo. On the radar of Marseille drug traffickers since the 1990s, he has been suspected of supplying the Étang de Berre sector with cannabis for a long time before going national or even international.

At 50 years old, the “Marseille mafia”, as the Spanish press dubbed him, still looks good. An ultra-bright smile, sunglasses, poker tournaments and luxury cars – the man lives in Casablanca most of the time. His Moroccan companion runs a luxurious bakery there, where you are promised “French excellence combined with a Moroccan delicacy.” During one of his rare visits to Spain, he was arrested in mid-July by civilian police when the plane landed at Malaga airport, after which he was handed over to the French authorities and imprisoned at the end of August. A sign of the importance of character in chartering drug trucks bound for the French market, it is the national jurisdiction in charge of fighting organized crime (Junalco) that oversees investigations. His lawyer Me Emmanuel Marcigny declined to comment.

Hailing from Istria, where he once ran a grocery store, 37-year-old Tarik Kerbuchi has long remained out of the radar of drug fighters. The one called “The Bison” did not appear in Ofast’s “Top 50” goals until January 2020. Just weeks before the record-breaking seizure of 3.3 tons of cocaine near Marseille in February 2020.

Ofast police officers were stunned by the ease with which the three traffickers were able to recover 90 sports bags from the port of Fos-sur-Mer, hidden in a container filled with banana puree from Costa Rica. The disappointment was twofold for the trio: firstly, because they were arrested at the scene of the crime while unloading their cargo at a villa in Saint-Mitre-lès-Rampard; then because the cocaine they were expecting had previously been replaced by a substitute product during a previous stop in Livorno, Italy. The confiscation was valued at almost 230 million euros on retail resale.

Dismantling encrypted messaging

Twenty people linked to Manuel Mayor’s clan have already been charged in Marseille in this case. Kerbutsi’s name could be added to the list. “Bizon” was arrested in Dubai on July 25, a few weeks after a visit to the emirate in late June by the head of Ofast, Stephanie Cherbonnier. It cannot be said that Tarik Kerbouchi was hiding with his wife and children in the desert: the auto racing enthusiast “Bizon” regularly appeared on the podiums of the Gulf Radical Cup competition.

According to several agreed sources, these arrests would not have been possible without the dismantling in recent years of two encrypted messaging services (EncroChat and Sky ECC) and exploiting the hundreds of thousands of messages exchanged by traffickers around the world. Neither the prosecutor’s office in Paris nor the prosecutor’s office in Marseille responded to JDD’s inquiries.

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