A man wanted for 20 years was arrested completely by chance on the highway during a roadside check carried out in the Doubs on January 1, we learned on Friday from a source familiar with the matter.
It would be the brother of Sofiane Hambli, one of the biggest French drug traffickers arrested in October after several months on the run.
The suspect was checked by customs officers at a rest area on the A36 motorway, near Pelousey (Doubs).
They discovered 10,700 euros in the vehicle registered in Spain and the man presented them with a Swiss identity card.
"Thanks to the excellent cooperation between the French and Swiss authorities, it was quickly confirmed that this document was an administrative forgery", underlined the prosecutor of Besançon, Étienne Manteaux.
He then refused to give his real identity, but the dissemination of his photograph allowed French investigators to recognize him as the brother of Sofiane Hambli, said the same source.
The suspect was remanded in custody.
“Important traffic facts”
The Besançon prosecutor's office has opened a judicial investigation for "possession of false administrative documents" after the control of this 43-year-old man, said the Besançon prosecutor, Étienne Manteaux.
“This man has, in all likelihood, been wanted for 20 years for significant acts of drug trafficking,” added the prosecutor, without however confirming the identity of the forties.
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On the run, "he was tried in absentia and sentenced in 2007 in Mulhouse to eight years' imprisonment for importing narcotics with members of his family", he continued, stressing that "this person had no never before been arrested”. The Mulhouse public prosecutor's office will soon notify him of his arrest warrant. He may accept the judgment or oppose and be retried.
His brother, Sofiane Hambli, a high-flying drug trafficker, was arrested in October after several months on the run, in a clinic in Tangier (Morocco) where he had been admitted after being attacked in the streets of the city.
Originally from Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin), Sofiane Hambli, 46, has a heavy criminal record.
He is the key figure in the scandal of the importation into France of seven tonnes of cannabis in 2015, which resulted in the ousting of the ex-boss of the fight against drugs François Thierry.