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French ‘king of hash’ sentenced to 16 years in prison

A man suspected of being one of France’s biggest drug barons has been sentenced to 16 years in prison after a trial that heard of his import techniques involving high-speed vehicles laden with marijuana.

Moufide Bouchibi, a 41-year-old Franco-Algerian known as “Mouf”, was extradited from Dubai in March after years of being sought by France for drugs offences.

After a three-day trial in Bordeaux last week that was frequently adjourned, the man sometimes called the “king of hash” in the French media was sentenced on Thursday to 16 years in jail with fines totalling six million euros ($7 million).

The judge ordered that he serve at least two-thirds of the sentence.

In his concluding argument, prosecutor Mathieu Fohlen said Bouchibi was guilty of sending “astronomical” quantities of marajuana resin from Morocco using cars driven at speed down French motorways.

Police have long battled the scourge of so-called “go fasts” — often German-made saloon cars filled with drugs that drive far beyond the speed limit, often at night, from southern Spain to cities in France.

One such convoy allegedly sent by Bouchibi was stopped in 2011 with 743 kilograms (1,600 lbs) of cannabis resin inside.

In an intercepted message presented in court, Bouchibi wrote to an associate “the others did the job”, meaning other cars had evaded detection, the prosecution said.

Bouchibi denied being the author of the messages and sought to contest his extradition from Dubai, claiming it was illegal.

His lawyer said he would appeal the conviction.