The recent discovery of a new drug trafficking route between Morocco and Europe inspired the creation of an international investigation unit, led by Italian police, which has finally resulted in the arrest of one of the world’s most wanted Hashish smugglers last October.
The multinational investigation took three years to complete and spanned three continents before leading to the capture of Ben Ziane Berhili, a Moroccan entrepreneur, October 4 in Casablanca.
The suspect, aged 57, is the owner of a well-known dessert company in Morocco. Until his arrest Berhili had managed to smuggle 400 tons of Hashish, worth billions of dollars, from Morocco to Europe through a newly created route that ran along the coast of North Africa to Libya, then to Egypt and finally to the Balkans where European drug distributors were waiting.
Italian investigators, who were later joined by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other European law enforcement entities, successfully confiscated $3.2 billion worth of Hashish over the last three years.
As published in the New York Times, agents from the Italian anti-drug squad gathered intelligence information about the suspect’s drug-related involvement with the new Hashish route. The investigation culminated on October 4 of this year.
According to Italian police, after three years of dogged detective work, the suspect’s apartment in Casablanca was raided, an event which only made the news public last Thursday.
In a public statement, Francesco Mazzotta, the commander of the Italian financial police force that led the investigation declared:
“Berhili is undoubtedly one of the biggest single hashish smugglers in the world. His capture is the result of a massive battle being conducted by European police forces in the Mediterranean.”