Pubdate: Sun, 27 Apr 2008
Source: Observer, The (UK)
Copyright: 2008 The Observer
Author: Gerard Couzens in Malaga
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


Boastful 'Baby' treated his Spanish jailers to a brothel before
escaping; now he's back in prison

Spanish police have captured one of the world's most prolific cannabis
smugglers after he escaped jail with the help of prison guards in his

Mohamed Taieb Ahmed, nicknamed El Nene - The Baby - was arrested after
being stopped in a sports car belonging to his brother in Spain's
north African enclave of Ceuta. He was carrying false papers and
police had to identify him by his fingerprints.

He is expected to be extradited to Morocco this week, more than four
months after walking out of a jail in the town of Kenitra, where he
had served three years of an eight-year sentence for drugs trafficking
and bribing civil servants.

El Nene was well known in his native Ceuta, where Arabic-speaking
Muslims make up about 40 per cent of the 70,000-strong population. He
started out as an errand boy for drug pushers in the impoverished
hillside neighbourhood of Principe Alfonso, where half of Ceuta's
Muslims live. But by the age of 16 he was aiding the international
drugs traffickers plying the route between north Africa and southern
Europe - and soon after launched his own organisation.

El Nene delighted in taking video footage of his drugs runs and
posting it on the internet. And when his powerful motorboats outran
Civil Guard patrols as he crossed the Strait of Gibraltar he used to
lower his trousers and bare his backside at them.

El Nene, 32, enjoyed dual Spanish-Moroccan nationality, lived between
the two countries and boasted of having a multi-million-pound fortune.
The authorities estimate that about one in 10 joints smoked by
Spaniards contain cannabis trafficked by his organisation. The Spanish
police calculate he is behind the introduction of 50 tons of cannabis
a year into Europe through Andalucia, nine miles away from the north
African coast at the narrowest point of the Strait of Gibraltar.

Many of his ill-gained millions have been laundered through luxury
villas in an upmarket neighbourhood near Tetuan and businesses
registered in relatives' names.

The life of luxury he bought himself in his Moroccan jail has served
only to heighten his legendary status among teenage school dropouts in
Ceuta hoping to become the next El Nene. Prison staff turned his cell
into a luxury suite complete with a plasma TV, DVD player and a laptop
with internet access in return for bribes of money, motorbikes and

He regularly ordered in takeaways from some of Kenitra's best
restaurants and is even said to have been allowed out on several
occasions to treat guards to free dinners and even a night in a local

He disappeared from prison on 7 December last year, but Moroccan
authorities only discovered he was gone after an anonymous tip-off. He
is believed to have re-entered Ceuta on a false passport. Eight prison
workers at the jail he escaped from have been sentenced to between two
months and two years in prison.

A spokesman for Spain's National Police, who captured El Nene on
Wednesday on an international arrest warrant issued by Morocco, said:
'He boasted of having more millions than years of age. The prison he
was being held in was supposed to be a high-security jail. But he had
three cells with all kinds of luxuries including the latest hi-tech

A police source added: 'We believe he's been continuing to run his
drugs empire from his cell. We've had him under surveillance since he
entered Ceuta, but we couldn't do anything until we had the
international arrest warrant in our hands.

'He wasn't armed when we arrested him and he didn't put up any
resistance. I simply think we caught him unawares.'

Jenaro Garcia-Arreciado, a Ceuta-based government spokesman, said:
'This is good news for everyone because of the type of activity he
dedicated himself to and because places like Ceuta are now better off
than before.'
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